I thought I’d take a quick moment and offer an anticipatory New Year’s Day “thank you” from a pastor’s perspective to all the faithful Christians who make up all of the Christian congregations.
Thank you to the one who sees visitors, and without hesitation, greets them with a beaming smile and a genuine welcome.
Thank you to the one serving on the altar guild, the one who won’t leave until that one flower that just won’t sit correctly among the bouquets adorning the Lord’s altar is right, the one who will take such great care well before and after worship to see that the Lord’s holy things are kept in careful ways, ways befitting of royalty.
Thank you to the one who will traverse the aisles of the church nave, doing what he or she can to see to a presentable place of worship.
Thank you to the one who gives hours of time to decorate the church nave by season, the one who carries and lifts and unfolds and irons all so that in a few short weeks it will be necessary to carry and lift and fold once more.
Thank you to the one who stands near the entrance of the church nave before worship being certain that all in attendance have what they need before worship begins.
Thank you to the one who gives a smile of encouragement to the young father and mother struggling with their little ones.
Thank you to that young couple for wrestling through a challenging morning, for getting the little ones breakfast, for getting them dressed, for doing all they can to teach their little ones the vernacular of the Church’s faith and worship in the same way their parents taught them.
Thank you to the single parent who does this alone.
Thank you to the one who serves on a board or committee, giving tirelessly so that a specific gathering of people in a particular place might be a useful tool in the Lord’s hands for the extension of His Gospel kingdom.
Thank you to the one who sees a crooked banner and gives it a nudge to straighten it.
Thank you to the one who walks through the entirety of the church/school campus after worship or an event in order to make sure that doors are locked, the alarms are set, and that the facility that the Lord has seen fit to grant is safe and ready for the next day’s potential.
Thank you to the one who vacuums the floors and takes out the garbage, the one who sees a wall that needs some care that can only come by way of a paintbrush and then paints it.
Thank you to the one who sees a light bulb in need of replacement and gets a ladder and changes it, the same one who spends countless Saturday afternoons traversing the halls to find and make repairs.
Thank you to the one who makes sure that the coffee and snacks are plentiful and ready before the gathering of God’s people for study of His Word. Thank you to the one who cleans it all up, puts away all of the supplies, and begins to prepare for the next gathering.
Thank you to the one who teaches Sunday School, the one who gives of oneself Sunday after Sunday for the sake of Christ’s littlest lambs.
Thank you to the one who helps find and recruit the Sunday School teachers, who spends time petitioning God for faithful servants to go before Him with His holy Word.
Thank you to the one who teaches in a Christian day school, the one who dedicates a lifetime for the sake of the eternity of others.
Thank you to the one who volunteers in the day school, the one who helps with crafts, with reading, with special luncheons for the teachers and children, with playground supervision, with field trip chaperoning, with office help, and with so much more.
Thank you to the one who gives time and effort to comfort the bereaved, the one who cries with the widow, the one who makes and delivers a meal in a time of crisis, who sends note cards with comforting texts from God’s Word edged with personal words of loving kindness.
Thank you to the one who refills a luncheon attendee’s coffee just because, and the one who helps take down tables and put away chairs.
Thank you to the one who steps up to meet burdens borne only by principle leadership, the one who sits in meeting after meeting making the most difficult of decisions, the one who takes those hours-long concerns home at night and wrestles with them there, too.
Thank you to the one who learns of a need and adds an extra zero to his or her offering check before putting it into the offering plate. Thank you to the one who does this not just stirred by a particular need, but because of a continued evaluation of one’s giving, a careful reconsidering of the commitment made and the desire to reach higher if possible.
Thank you to the one who shows such incredible love to the workers—to the pastor, the school principal, the day school teachers, the office administrators, and all others—the one who writes kindly notes of encouragement, who helps fold and send congregation letters, who takes time to diagnose and then fix a problem with a vehicle, who bakes a little something extra for a servant’s family to enjoy.
Thank you to the one who keeps the same pew warm Sunday after Sunday, the one who never misses because to do so would to be found hungry—no, starving—for that which is needed for life in this world and a heart set for the next.
Thank you to all who truly emit what the Psalmist meant when he wrote by the power of the Holy Spirit, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (84:10).
By God’s grace alive and at work through you, I am more than confident that 2019 will be even better than 2018. You will continue to be salt. You will continue to be lights in the world and a collective city on a hill (Matthew 5:13-16). The Lord’s Word will continue to go forth through days of both persecution and rest. His mighty arm will be evident among us, and many who walk in darkness will see a great light; and those who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them a light will shine (Isaiah 9:2).
Again, thank you. It is a privilege and pleasure to serve beside and among you. And may the one true God—the Father, the +Son, and the Holy Spirit—bless and preserve you for such faithfulness.