A Pastoral Message

Thanksgiving Message 2023

For the harvests of the Spirit, thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit, thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us, for the truths that still confound us,
Most of all, that love has found us, thanks be to God.

For the Fruit of All Creation, ELW 679


Earlier this year, after a string of rostered minister funerals, we decided to ask all our pastors and deacons to submit their funeral plans to our office, that we might be better able to accompany their families and congregations in those difficult times. Since I thought it wise to lead by example, I sat down and filled out the form myself. As I reflected on the scripture passages and hymns and other details I would like to be included in my service, my thoughts kept returning to this hymn, often sung at Thanksgiving.


The final verse, quoted above, contains what might be the clearest expression of several of my most central theological convictions. We all inherit things that are good and beautiful, and we are called to steward them and pass them along to those who follow us. This world is filled with amazing and wonderful things that promise to astound us, if only we will slow down enough to notice. The truths of our lives and our world are not simply facts to master and memorize, but they challenge and confound us, keeping us grounded in humility and open to the thoughts and experiences of others. Finally, and most importantly, love finds us. We don’t earn it, we don’t create it, we may not even feel like we deserve it, but love has found us. Love comes to us as a gift, through the presence and power of God’s Holy Spirit, but also in the simple and gentle acts of human community and in the imperfect efforts of family and friends, love has found us, love will always find us, and all that is left for us to do is to simply say, “thanks be to God.”


My prayer for all of us, as individuals, as families, as congregations, and as communities, is that we may find the space and the time to notice, to wonder, and to give thanks, this weekend and always, trusting that love has already found us, and love will never let us go.


Thanks be to God,

Bishop Paul Erickson