Isn't it hard to believe that it's Thanksgiving already and that the year is almost over? This year has been so utterly strange that it's not only hard to keep track of what day it is, it's even hard to know what time of year it is. I like Thanksgiving though. I find it a welcome holiday when the weather is not too hot or cold, and we just focus on family, friends, food, and football without the high stress that comes with Christmas. Around our house, Thanksgiving is usually a fairly relaxing time (save the kids) . . . although I have heard that it can be extremely busy for those responsible for hosting and cooking. I always wondered how the house got clean and snacks, decorations, and food magically appeared on the table. Anyways, thank you to those of you (I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that it's mostly the ladies) who make Thanksgiving nice and peaceful for the rest of us.
This year I think there are some people who want to bypass Thanksgiving and jump right into Christmas (or just have 2020 over with altogether). I already see lots of Christmas lights and decorations in our neighborhood. While Christmas is known as the season of giving, there are two projects in our church that remind me Thanksgiving is also a time for giving and sharing with others. One is the Thanksgiving Blessing Box project and the other is the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox project. Both of these take place in October/November each year. In the Blessing Box project, spearheaded by our Mercy & Justice ministry and Deacon Anne Smith, the church assembles and distributes Thanksgiving food boxes with a complete Thanksgiving meal for entire families. This past weekend, 38 boxes (approximately 200+ meals) were given to love and bless various families within our church and community (from Cameron and Parkview Elementary Schools). As these families came to pick up their boxes, many expressed their thanks and appreciation for the church's generosity during this challenging year. The OCC Shoebox project is coordinated by Deacon Arleen Koshimizu and the Missions Committee. In this project, church members and families pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and other items that are eventually sent to needy children around the world; children who would probably never receive a gift of any kind otherwise. The shoeboxes are used to share the love of God with the poor, and to tell them about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the church family packed over 120 shoeboxes which were delivered to the Samaritan's Purse distribution center last week. Praise the Lord! Our prayer is that these gifts will bring joy and salvation to the lives of many children. Thank you to Mercy & Justice and Missions for coordinating these projects.
When I think of Thanksgiving at our church, these two projects remind me of how richly the Lord has blessed us; how we have been put in a privileged position to give and share with others. One of the stereotypical images of Thanksgiving is the horn-shaped decoration called the "cornucopia" which is usually filled with fruits, vegetables, gourds, and flowers. According to tradition, the cornucopia is called the horn of plenty and is a symbol of abundance and nourishment. In a way, this is how I see these two Thanksgiving projects at our church where the Lord has richly provided for us that we might nourish and encourage others; be it through blessing boxes filled with food, shoeboxes filled with toys and supplies, or the simple giving of our time and money to help those in need. Recognizing what a challenging year it has been, I am grateful for how our church, West Covina Christian Church, continues to generously and faithfully support these important projects. May the Lord continue to teach us how to grow as givers and faithful servants. In Acts 20:35, the Apostle Luke says “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
Lastly, I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks to you, the church family, for your generous gifts and encouraging cards and notes for pastor appreciation. I am humbled when I think about how the Lord has given me the opportunity to do His work in a church family like ours, and grateful to be able to work and serve alongside you for God's glory and the spread of His kingdom. Thank you again for your generosity to me and my family.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
In Christ's love,