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  • Writer's picturePastor Gen

Pastor Gen - Thoughts from a Sabbatical #13

close-up of a dandelion blossom surrounded by leaves
dandelion in New Zealand

Dear Veradale Friends,

It’s almost November. Wow! From this Sunday, it is only 15 days more before I am back in the office. I look forward to learning what you all have experienced about being a congregation and I have much to share about all that I have experienced and learned.

The image above is from my last day in New Zealand. I looked for wildflowers everywhere I traveled and I found dandelions in each country to be abundant. I think that Jesus might have meant "have faith like a dandelion seed" instead of mustard seed if he had seen this mighty, little plant. Think about how those little seeds must have been caught in the wind to arrive in such far off places!

Thoughts and Reflections:

As all Hallows Eve, October 31 moves into All Saints’ Day, November 1, we directly or indirectly are considering our relationship with death. A long time ago, an elder told me something like, “We spend more time dead than we will spend alive so we must live each day making the world a better place.” I understood what she meant was that we need to be intentional about living so that - like dandelion seeds — the world can be covered with kindness, justice, and the peace that comes though this way of Jesus.

As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, I can imagine our gratitude being sent out into the world like dandelion seeds. We let them go in the wind of the Spirit to grow where they can.

Douglas Wood has written several books. One we read in church a few years ago is his story “Old Turtle.” It is such a wonderful story about how there can be many ways to experience God through our own life experiences.Recently, I was introduced to another of his books. It is titled “The Secret of Saying Thanks." As we enter the month of Thanksgiving, here is a quote from this book:

“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time. The more we say thanks, the more we find to be thankful for. And the more we find to be thankful for, the happier we become. We don't give thanks because we're happy. We are happy because we give thanks.”

When thinking of my gratitudes as dandelion seeds of thanks, they are abundant and my heart full of happiness. For years I have closed each night and begun each morning with a prayer of thanks. I find myself adding to that prayer through out the day.

Among the thanksgivings I have sent out during this sabbatical are prayers of gratitude for:

- The small and mighty Veradale UCC. There is a sweet, sweet Spirit in this community of faith.

- The holy gift of Pastor Roger’s time and talent to be with us through this sabbatical experience.

- The gift of the leaders, Wayne, Jerry, Joe, Gregg, Charlie, Diane, Don, Marvin, Michael, Sam, Karla, Cherall Anne, Sue, Stephany, Louise, Becky, Maureen, Naomi, Scotty, and all those who support them in following where they lead.

- The blessing of the ancestors who built our church, the building and importantly, the ideals of an inclusive community. They made a way for us so that we could make a way for others to live practicing this way of Jesus.

- The honor of knowing my smart, kind kids

- The blessings of friends and family.

And then the gratitudes for home, food, shelter, and health to be able to help others have the same.

During this season of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of Douglas Wood’s words, "We don't give thanks because we're happy. We are happy because we give thanks.”

May that happiness be yours! As the apostle Paul wrote: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15-16

With gratitude,

Pastor Gen

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