By Al Reimche
Less than three weeks away. It seems impossible that Thanksgiving is that close, and with it, the whole holiday season. I know in many homes, the tradition is to enjoy a huge family get-together and take a moment to remember what we are thankful for. Can I do that earlier this year and maybe reverse the trend away from shopping insanity surrounding this holiday to blessings we have received or are receiving? I just returned from the North American Division year-end meetings and a visit to our seminary students at Andrews University.
First blessing: safe travels. With the recent news of the two major airline disasters, safe travel is not something to take for granted anymore.
Blessing number two: A church that is growing in its understanding of the importance of representing the phenomenal love of Christ to a world that is desperate for a picture of grace. I witnessed that in the aftermath of the tragedy in Roseburg, as members and pastors reached out to share God’s love with a community reeling from the losses and trauma of the shootings. I witnessed it in a different way as our church in North America worked together to develop a grace-filled statement concerning the issues surrounding the LGBTQ discussions. I saw it again as our Oregon Conference Executive Committee addressed the approach to be taken in addressing the commissioning of pastors within our conference. It even showed up in the world church’s response in the political arena as our church moves into the spotlight. If you are interested, there is an excellent website addressing who Adventists are that you can recommend to your friends. Look at it yourself: www.WhoAreAdventists.org and then share it with your neighbors. (Note the “.org”)
Blessing number three: For the past couple of months we have been working on developing a new department at the conference to support a ministry we see as essential. This past week things have come together so that we can announce not only the formation of a young adult ministries department, but also the name of the individual who will be filling the director role. I am blessed by the excitement and energy surrounding this area within our conference. Just within the last year we have moved from one ministry on our secular campuses to six, with others still in development. This is just one area we will be expanding in the next year. Benjamin Lundquist from the Arizona Conference has accepted our call to head this department here in Oregon. I can see God’s hand leading as we engage the energy, talents, and passion of our young adults in ministry.
Blessing number four: Though sometimes blessings don’t often happen as we think they should, the end results can be seen as positive directions from the Lord. One of those was the loss of Tracy and Angelina Wood from our conference. Tracy left a major hole in our youth department by accepting a call to NAD. (Angelina continues to be a blessing here in the risk management department until something opens up for her.) Just two weeks ago, that hole was finally filled and I believe God has demonstrated once again that blessings sometimes come from losses. Randy Hill from Medford has accepted our call to serve as the associate youth ministries director and will work with the Pathfinder program as well as in the rest of the youth ministries department.
Blessing number five: “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” What a blessing that supersedes everything else. Jesus loves us. He is willingly throwing His righteousness over our shoulders and then welcoming us to His feast. With that thought ringing in your mind, have a blessed Thanksgiving.