The theme of Sunday’s service was gratitude, and the congregation was invited to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.
Here’s a big one to start. We welcomed three new members to our growing church family: Christina Chauvenet, Marie Gaarder, and Sam Mills. We are grateful and delighted that they have found their faith community with us.
Then there was the gratitude tree. “The what?” you ask. Well, it seems this idea originated in Sweden. A small birch tree with many lights but bare branches was at the front of the sanctuary. Each member of the congregation was given a leaf. On one side they wrote two things they were thankful for in our church. On the other side, carrying on the stewardship theme of “What Next”, they wrote two things they would like to see different or new as we go forward in the new year. Then all came forward and filled the branches with their leaves. The children returned from Sunday School and hung turkeys on the tree with their thoughts written on them. Pastor Ellen will receive lots of ideas and insights from this special expression of thankfulness.
Pastor Ellen’s sermon was also about gratitude. The readings from scripture assured us that God will provide. This does not always seem evident as we consider the hunger, war, and despair we see around us in the world. Pastor Ellen reminded us that God provides us with what we need in the face of these tribulations: solace, comfort, reassurance, and refuge. Knowing that God will not abandon us we must live up to our responsibility to carry on Christ’s work in the world and create God’s kingdom right here, right now. We should also be mindful of, and grateful for, the many blessings that we do receive from God in our daily lives.
We have opportunities during this holiday season to receive gratitude as well. Together we collected 38 gift cards (over $1500!) for Shaw Community Center so that the folks there can provide Thanksgiving dinners for their families. Ashley Holst said that, as she walked to Shaw on Monday afternoon to deliver the cards, she passed two different sites giving away Thanksgiving baskets with long lines of people waiting in the cold. Due to inflation, many families are struggling to make ends meet and your support is helping make some holiday tables more bountiful and festive. Shaw Community Center is very grateful to Cleveland Park Church for this generosity.
Another opportunity for giving will begin this Sunday, November 27. You can sign up to be a Secret Christmas Angel for a child at Shaw Community Center. There will be a sign up sheet and gift tags with the child’s first name, age, and wish in the parlor. Wrapped gifts should be returned to the church by Sunday, December 11th. Gifts will be distributed at Shaw’s annual Christmas Party on December 17th. This has become a tradition at Cleveland Park that brings joy to so many kids. Contact Ashley Holst if you have questions.
Finally, please consider bringing non-perishable food and household donations for St. Paul’s pantry on November 27 and December 4. You can bring your donation of canned foods and other items to church on each of those Sundays. There will also be someone in the parlor to receive donations from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm on Saturday, December 3. And, just in case you might wonder what is needed, the Mission and Social Action Committee has provided this convenient shopping list.
- canned fruits
- canned veggies
- canned protein (chicken, tuna, meat)
- peanut butter
- pasta sauce
- hearty soups and stews
- shelf-stable milk
- healthy cereals in regular (not Costco) size boxes
- cleaning supplies: unopened containers of dish and laundry detergent, bleach cleansers, Lysol, Pine-Sol, sponges, rubber gloves, scrubbers, white vinegar, baking soda, masks, toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, aluminum foil, plastic wrap.
Wow, that’s quite a list! I could use a few myself. So keep this in mind as you breeze down the aisles of your local grocery. Think to yourself, “my cart is my heart” and remember to pick up a few extras for your neighbors in need.
I wish everyone in our generous and grateful church family a joyous Thanksgiving holiday.
Until next time,