Dear Friends in Christ,

“They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (Nehemiah 12:43).

At the end of the Book of Nehemiah, the people of God gather in Jerusalem to dedicate the newly constructed wall of Jerusalem. It is a day of thanksgiving and celebration. The entire community is present. Two choirs accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres process with great joy on top of the city wall. First fruits and tithes are collected. It is a great day of rejoicing.

It is important to take time in our lives to give thanks and to celebrate. During my exit interview at St. John’s in Stony Ridge, we spent considerable time looking back on our common mission and ministry together. We shared a blessed 12 years together. Though there was a tender moment, when I asked for their forgiveness. I asked the leaders of the parish to forgive me for not taking time to celebrate our many accomplishments together. Looking back, I realized that as soon as we accomplished a goal or a transforming season of ministry, I was pushing us on to the next goal and the next season of ministry. Too often, I failed to push pause and to celebrate.

We just took time to celebrate the gift of Thanksgiving. Many of us pushed pause and gathered with family and friends. In our family we were able to be together, though it was through Facetime with our son and daughter-in-law, who are in teaching in Japan.

My prayer for you in this coming Advent season is that you take the time… Take the time to push pause, that you might take the time to celebrate and rejoice.