I know our minds are currently on what kind of candy we will snag from our children’s or grandchildren’s Halloween bags, but as Halloween approaches my mind and heart turns to All Saints Day. It’s then when I think of my grandparents and so many other saints who have played such an important role in my faith development.
However, the day focuses not only on honoring departed members of the Church and local congregations, but also those still living who have contributed to the work and ministry of the Church in significant ways. We remember with great appreciation the grandmother who took us to church every Sunday. We remember the pastor who prayed with us in the hospital or comforted us through the loss of a loved one. We give thanks for the youth leader who told us Jesus loved us, the Sunday school teacher who showered us with that love, and the man in the congregation who mowed the lawn when Dad was recovering from surgery.
Retelling these stories grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be.
I would invite you to step into November, the month of contemplating giving thanks, remembering the saints who have informed your faith. Later in the month we will gather around food laden tables with family and friends. I encourage you in this season of thinking and talking about what we give thanks for, to invite congregations and individuals to act on giving thanks.
Consider in this season of giving thanks to invite members and friends of your congregation to consider a legacy gift that gives thanks for someone who has influenced their lives spiritually; someone who has inspired them by the way they have lived a generous life. There may be a Sunday School teacher, youth leader, choir director, or pastor who has taught you to live a generous life. Give a gift in honor of them to fund the ministry of the church.
People might also choose to give a gift to church to express thanksgiving for the role the church has played in their life. Perhaps children are now grown and raising their children in the community of faith. Think back on all the ways the congregation has nurtured your children through Sunday School and children’s sermons to youth group and confirmation class. There were powerful mission trips and retreats that made space for your children to go deeper in their faith. You now see that it is not your faith that they live but a faith that has become their own and they are now sharing that faith with their children. In thanksgiving give a gift to the ministry of the church for the role it has had in your family.
Thanks be to God for people of the church who have helped us to become the people God intends us to be.