"Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”  — Psalm 50:23, NRSV

 
Thoughts of November most certainly bring to mind thoughts of our American holiday, Thanksgiving.  Many likely consider Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to visit with family, watch parades and football games, and eat a traditional meal that may include turkey and pumpkin pie.  I say “may” because the Hoppers have been known to opt for something other than turkey.  Nonetheless, we all may have particular memories of this American holiday set aside for Thanksgiving.
 
One of my memories of a certain Thanksgiving was being on a military deployment on the border of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  We did the best we could on our base camp to step up meals in the mess hall and other activities to help celebrate Thanksgiving, which prompted conversations with some of the local civilians we employed as translators and for other services.  “What is this Thanksgiving?” one of them asked me. 
 
Her name was Mina, who was a Serbian and served as a translator.  As I explained our American holiday of Thanksgiving to her, she shared that she was an Eastern Orthodox Christian and that they engage in thanksgiving on a more regular basis.  I confess that stung a little as I considered the implication of what she said.  But then, she just as quickly said that they do it so often that they might kind of “forget” why they are doing as it is the one of the things they do most.  That conversation helped me to remember that each day is a thanksgiving day, as we recognize God's unfailing, abundant love and grace.   
 
One of the things I am thankful for is joining the congregation at Mt. Zion UMC in time to participate in at least part of Mission Mount Zion, which has been an inspiring initiative in being better stewards of God’s blessings in a number of ways.  Better stewardship is a form of thanksgiving, and I pray the experience of increased giving will continue into the next year and grow every day as a reflection of our thanksgiving. 
 
I believe the last two years have been a season of preparation at Mt. Zion as a time of gathering up for us to step out and do great things in the name of our Lord.  A common theme you will hear in my sermons draws from the question:  “What shall we do with what God has given us?”  No doubt, we do a lot, and have an opportunity to plan for expanded missions to do even more as a church.  However, it is always appropriate to ask the question in a more personal way.  I pray that each of us will ask ourselves the question this way:  “What will I do with what God has given me?” 
 
But, let us do more than ask the question, let us answer with actions.  God is always good and gracious.  Let us be thankful, and share this reality of good news with the world.
 
Peace and Grace,
Pastor Harden