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Chicago, Illinois 60630-2431

Sunday Service

8:00 a.m - Slovak Language
9:30 a.m. - English Language


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A Word From Pastor Joyce

It is wonderful to be grateful and to sing your praises, Lord Most High! It is wonderful each morning to tell about your love and at night to announce how faithful you are. (Psalm 92:1-2 cev)

“It is wonderful to be grateful . . . “ Do you have an attitude of gratitude?

Do you remember the story of Joseph? (Genesis 37ff) Right now, I’m thinking particularly about the time he was in prison with two other men, one the royal baker and the other the royal cup bearer. Joseph interpreted dreams for them. The cup bearer’s dream had a good interpretation. He would be released and restored to his position. He was delighted. Joseph asked him to “remember” him and to speak well of him when he was on the outside. Well, it was two years later when he finally remembered! Pharaoh had a troubling dream that no one could interpret. The cup bearer suggested that Joseph might be able to help. Joseph did indeed understand the dream - - - a warning about a famine that would follow the good years. Pharaoh was relieved and placed Joseph in a powerful leadership position - - - one which required careful preparation for the famine so that the people would not all die.

November is the month for thanksgiving - - - at least it is the time our government suggests we focus one day in particular on “counting our blessings” - - - “expressing our “thanks.” This generally translates into a time of great feasting with family and friends - - - otherwise known as “over-eating.” Typically, people are thankful for all the food and the gathering, large or small, of family and friends. It’s so obvious in the moment. Everyone is together. But, what about the “Josephs” in your life?

Who has done a kindness to you, only to be forgotten quickly? What tragic situation have you observed and ignored? What opportunities of service have passed you by? It seems to me that our annual Thanksgiving celebration is often a very superficial experience. We don’t dig too deeply into our hearts and minds to uncover blessings we have forgotten to act upon. Hopefully, at least for some of us, Thanksgiving Day will be a time of intentional thanksgiving. For what will you offer thanks? How will you show your “attitude of gratitude?”

As I reflect upon the recent and on-going happenings, both in Washington DC and in Springfield, I am tempted to be cynical and bitter. What good are the politicians. Election to office seems to lead them into a world of “self-servitude” and a loss of values. However, I am grateful that we, the people, continue to have the opportunity to express our dissatisfaction in up-coming elections. I am grateful that we are free to express our opinions without being threatened. And, life and government go on in spite of the confusion. The stock market may go down, but experience tells us it will go up again. We don’t need to panic.

Once, while teaching a Sunday school class, students put together packages of ingredients for fresh, home made bean soup. I had the privilege of delivering them to a local food pantry. It was a busy place. On one hand, I had a feeling of sadness to think that there are hungry people unable to satisfy that hunger on their own. On the other hand, I felt so grateful for all the busy volunteers sorting and shelving recent donations. I felt grateful that someone in the past put forth great time and effort to establish this help line. And, I felt very grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Helen Keller once said: “I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.” Helen Keller could have remained a bitter person. However, she found a way, by God’s grace, to use her handicaps to serve humanity in spite of being both deaf and blind. She became an effective author, activist and lecturer.

W. T. Purkiser, a preacher, scholar and author, said that the true measure of our thanksgiving is not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them. This seems to say the same as the old saying: “Actions speak louder than words.”
Writer Frederick Koenig says that “we tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

As a pastor, I find myself visiting many people in many different situations. I go to share God's gifts of love and hope. Often I leave feeling that someone has given me much more. It may happen as our eyes connect. It may be a smile in the midst of pain. It may be words of encouragement such as: "Pastor, I pray for you everyday." And, I thank God for these times in which God speaks to me through those who are hurting.

God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. St. Paul encourages us to give thanks in all situations. (1 Thess.5:18) Paul, himself, gave thanks to God even when he was in prison --- not his choice of places to be. Corrie ten Boom gave thanks to God for the "gift of lice" in the concentration camp barracks! (Have you read The Hiding Place?)
Both Paul and Corrie used these opportunities to share God's gifts of love and hope with others.

Have an attitude of gratitude. Express your thanks to God by looking for opportunities to share God's blessings. Be active rather than passive in expressing your thanks. In the midst of the sharing, situations cease to look so bleak. Thanks be to God for the opportunities to love and serve others.
Peace and joy,
Pastor Joyce