Dear Family of St John’s

If you live in PE/GQ and stepped outside on Wednesday evening, you would have seen the most magnificent sunset. And, to make the sight even more spectacular, there was a double rainbow too!

My various WhatsApp groups were flooded with photos. It was actually all the notifications of messages coming through that alerted me to what was happening outside. And so, I confess, I saw the beautiful sky on my phone first.

I dragged my two sons outside to come and watch the sky with me. We stood together on the lawn, I had a son on each side and made them cuddle in tight (sometimes a mom has to force these cuddles!). We chatted about nothing in particular, looking at God’s evening display. And I was overcome with a sense of gratitude for that simple moment. My eldest is about to head back to Potchefstroom in a week or so. My youngest has a very full life and our schedules don’t often coincide. Having both of them in the same space for a quiet moment together was very special.

I’ve been thinking about gratitude quite a lot over the last week. It started when our staff team of twelve went away for a two-night breakaway to plan for the year ahead. We all experienced deep gratitude at the generosity of the family who made their homes available for us.

But, the greatest joy was in the team itself. We are blessed at St John’s with the staff who work here, and who have worked here in the past. A number of our team expressed the same sentiment over our two days away – they loved coming to work, it didn’t feel like work. Isn’t that something to be grateful for?

I am grateful for the shared vision we have in showing others the love of God, in the ways the different ministries come together to do just that.

I am grateful for every person who volunteers their time at St John’s. One of the exercises we did on our break-away was to put together a spider diagram of everything that happens at, and through, St John’s. The flip chart paper was FULL. And I know we’ve left some things off. Each of the groups and ministries is only possible because you love the Lord, and want to be part of the work we do here to share His love. I am so grateful for you.

I am grateful for the laughter that happens in our hall, in the Annexe, and outside my office door. It’s often so loud I have to close my door to get any work done – I love that. I am grateful for the joy that fills this space.

I am grateful for the friendships I see within our community who worship here. There is true love and care for each other. Some of these friendships are as close as family. When we speak about our community as the Family of Christ, it’s not just a catch-phrase, we feel that to be true. I am grateful for that bond.

There are other little things that have sparked gratitude for me this week. I’m grateful for the swim I had late yesterday afternoon after a day of high humidity. My husband, sister, a son’s girlfriend and I all had time in the pool together catching up and chatting about nothing in particular.

I’m especially grateful that my husband noticed I’d left my phone at home this morning and chased me down in the driveway as I was leaving!

If we stop and look, if we take a moment to think about all the good things that happen day-to-day, we will be overwhelmed at just how much we have to be grateful for. It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity that seems to permeate everything. If we’re not careful we start thinking and speaking in the same negative voice.

Sometimes, if we’re facing a particularly tough time, it can be difficult to find things to be grateful for. I understand that, and can relate to it. We need reminding in those tough moments that God is still with us, that He still sends us the rainbows to assure us of His presence and His promises. We can hold on to that.

May you be encouraged in the week ahead to pause and acknowledge the little things that you are grateful for. Give thanks to God for them. Give thanks for everything from that first coffee in the morning, to a hug from a friend, to a peaceful night’s sleep. Give thanks for the test results that are clear, for your child settling into school, for the people you encounter each day. Share your moments of gratitude with others as an encouragement of how good the Lord is.

Psalm 9:1-2, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

Lord, I am grateful.

With love
Your friend and rector,