November is the month in which we are called to count our blessings. At one end is All Saint’s Day, when we give thanks for loved ones whose memories we cherish as we commend them to the nearer presence of God. At the other end is Thanksgiving, when we “praise God from whom all blessings flow,” be they spiritual or material.
As we cross the threshold into the 11th month of 2017, there are those who may be tempted to forego the counting to which November calls us as we think of a nation reeling from a succession of hurricanes and also of the human storms that struck in places like Charlottesville and Las Vegas and even within our own church family.
But God’s grace and the power of faith are amazing things, and I’ve seen them doing their work here in a congregation that never gives up on bringing countless blessings from God to people like hurricane victims, homeless persons in Montgomery County, orphaned children half a world away, and those close to home who have been forever changed by a loss of one kind or another. I can assure you that those blessings have been counted across the miles and down through the corridors of time by people of faith.
Consider the family who lost a daughter and sister and yet proclaims “we are so blessed” by the comfort and love that surrounds them. Consider an attorney named Horatio Spafford whose three daughters died in a shipwreck, after which he wrote a hymn: When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot you have taught me to say, it is well it is well with my soul. Consider Pastor Martin Rinkart, who during the height of a severe plague in 1637, was the only surviving pastor in his town and performed more than 4000 funerals in that year, including that of his own wife. He also wrote a hymn: Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices; Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
If you think these folks have somehow misunderstood the concept of a blessing, I’d invite you to join us at St. Andrew during November from All Saints Sunday to Thanksgiving and beyond. If you do, you might begin to see that blessings do include things that bring us creature comforts in the form of food, shelter, toys to play with, and even people who bring us joy. But they also include the things that comfort our souls: things like hope, life in Christ, the belief that loved ones who die in the faith are with God, and the faith to believe that God is with us, come what may. These are the blessings that nothing in this world can give or take away. They are, in fact, the best blessings of all.
Whether the process is filled with joy or mingled with tears, join your friends at St. Andrew as we count our blessings in November and in all the days and years ahead.
In Christ, Your Brother,