Thanksgiving 2020

Ten Things I’m Grateful For…

In any list of gratitude, of course God will be at the top.  Without God, none of the rest of this would be possible.  But it’s good to get down to specifics once in a while and even though this is not an exhaustive list, here are ten things I’m grateful for this year:

  1. For our kids – Emma, Justin, Ethan, Tetsuo, Kazumi, Arlo, Cami, and Brandon.  Thank you for just being you. Of all the people of our church who are feeling the effects of the pandemic, we have not been able to meet your needs most of all.  
  2. For our staff – Naomi and Jill impress me every week.  They have done so much to hold our church together and to keep coming up with new ways of doing things. I’m thankful for everything they do.
  3. For our Worship Team – Wow. We are so blessed to have people like Naomi and Emman, Stefanie, Greg, and CJ share their voices; we have talented musicians like Irene, Kathy, Vicky, Kenji, and Rick who have shared their instruments; and I’m so grateful to our worship leaders Greg, Lee, Cheryl, Olivia, Lindsay, and our newest one – CJ who lead us in prayer and center us every Sunday morning.  
  4. For our Trustees – Remarkably, while no one is inside the building, this group keeps getting work done!  Under Joy’s leadership, they continue to get stuff done and keep the building safe for us all.
  5. For the Staff Parish Relations Committee – We’ve endured some tough times together and for that I am so grateful.  I’m grateful for your care and concern for me and my family.  And encouraged by your support.  With your help, I know I’ll continue to improve in being a better pastor for our church.  
  6. For our faith groups – Who still continue to meet in this pandemic!  Our Castro Valley Group, our Men’s Group, our Women’s Group, and our CCMs – thank you for being dedicated to one another and to supporting each other through these tough times.  I’m encouraged to see all of you wanting to grow deeper in faith and hope more people decide to join or form a new one.  
  7. For our Finance Committee – You have all been working so hard to get our finances in order and to make us safe and secure.  And while everyone has played an important part, kudos to Lindsay, Mike Williams, Jaime, and especially Irene for their part in handling all the intricacies of consolidating accounts, tracking down paperwork, learning new systems, and dealing with the difficulties that have come from this.  It is appreciated more than you know!
  8. For the Council of Ministries – These people faithfully meet every month to conduct the business of the church.  They are the ones who see how the sausage is made.  And they give of themselves because they love all of you!  If you’d like to serve in some capacity, just let me know.  We’re always looking for people with new ideas and new energy to continually help us grow.  
  9. For my family – Without Cassie and Emma, I wouldn’t be here or able to do any of this.  They have sacrificed a lot just so I could follow God’s call on my life.  I’m so grateful for that each and every day (yes, even the tough days).  And for Eve who is always in our prayers.  For our dogs who provide much needed emotional support through tail wagging and convenient kisses.  And for my extended family and friends who have been so supportive of all of us.  Thank you…
  10. For all of YOU! – If you’re reading this, it’s because you are part of our church family (whether you’re “officially” a member or not – like when we call people Uncle who aren’t related but we love them as if they were).  Without you, we just simply wouldn’t be the church.  So whether we see you regularly or just once in a while, know that you are in my prayers.

This isn’t everyone in the church for whom I’m grateful.  But it’s just a sample of what goes through my mind when I think of all the blessings God has placed in my life.  I still keep a gratitude journal, which has helped me greatly.  There are times when I go for months without putting something in it, but then I’m reminded why it is so important to keep focused on God, on the blessings in our lives, and for the people who we are so fortunate to have help us along the way.  If you don’t already keep a gratitude journal I highly encourage it!

I know traditionally, this is the letter where I mention giving to the church.  And if you happen to have enough this year and are able, we of course would welcome it.  But it’s in the middle of a pandemic.  And people are hurting.  And people are losing their jobs.  And everyone is having to tighten their belts at least a little bit if not a LOT.  So if you can give, sure, that would be nice.  But if you’re one of the many who have been struggling this year, please keep your money.  All we really want is you.  Let us know how we can pray for you.  Let us know how we can serve you.  And together we’ll make it through as one.  Amen.

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Craig

Your Pastor at Berkeley Methodist United Church