Oak Forest United Methodist Church
Saturday, November 18, 2017
To Know Christ, To Grow in Christ, To Share Christ

Pastor's Message

November 2017
     Every November I like to focus on gratitude and thanksgiving. I guess it’s cheesy and really “preachery” of me. Somehow I just can’t help myself. Perhaps it’s because we are coming to the end of the year and reflecting on the last year is always good for the soul. Maybe it’s the guarantee of a good meal, a time of rest and replenishment, and fun with the family produces feelings of gratitude. It’s truly unfair that Thanksgiving gets squeezed between Halloween and Christmas and even the new and upcoming holiday we call “Black Friday.” Taking time to look across the landscape of our lives and to give thanks for whose we are, what we have, and the community of faith we enjoy is life-giving and transformative. This work of giving thanks should not be rushed.
     Gratitude is the foundation of so many good things. From studies about people who give abundantly and to those who are happy, gratitude continues to be the factor that is common to contentment and happiness. Trust me, I am not turning into Joel Olsteen…. Gratitude is not going to bring you riches or beautiful people in your lives or the car of your dreams. What it does bring is perspective. Jesus talks about the ten lepers whom he healed. Out of the ten, only one turned and gave thanks to Jesus for the healing (Luke 17:11-19). All ten of the lepers were made “clean” but the one who stopped, turned back, and praised God with a loud voice was made well. If we were to bet on which one would be the one to give thanks to God, it probably would not have been this leper. Afterall, he was a Samaritan. Hundreds of years of tensions between the Jews and the Samaritans kept them divided as people. They hated one another so much that the Jews would walk out of their way to avoid traveling through Samaritan territory. 1st century hearers would have been offended by this story. They are God’s chosen, the Samaritans misinterpreted the scriptures, worshiped in the wrong place, and were the perennial losers if we were to ask a 1st century resident of Jerusalem. A Samaritan is the only one who comes back to shout thanks to God?! Gratitude was at the heart of his praise and it made him whole. Yes, you read that right! It made him whole.

30 Day Challenge
     During this month, let us give thanks for God, our lives, our homes, and for the people whom we call “family.” Let us give thanks for our church and that we have a place and a community to grow with, to praise and worship God, to wonder and debate, and to be forgiven and be made whole. Let November be the month that you keep a gratitude journal. Every day write something down that you are grateful for and see what happens to your perspective. Go to Facebook and document your gratitude. It’s amazing how gratitude can change everything.

Peace of Christ,
Julie Wilburn Peeler