Executive Conference Minister: Giving Thanks for Hope

Executive Conference Minister: Giving Thanks for Hope

Executive Conference Minister the Rev. Darrell Goodwin offered a video Thanksgiving message on Nov. 23. Read, or watch the full video below.
Good morning friends. If you're like me, this Wednesday, when work is finished, is going to be filled with all of the things that we have to do to prepare to make our homes and hearts available, to gather friends and family and maybe a Friendsgiving for those who we've created as our family to take a day just to reflect and be thankful for everything that we have, thankful that we made it through some storms, thankful that in the midst of everything that's happened even over the past couple of years, we can still find a moment of pause for gratitude.

But in the midst of those preparations, we're also holding the reality of a very troubled world. We're prayerfully holding the folks from Colorado Springs and those families who lost loved ones right before Thanksgiving at Club Q. We're holding our siblings in Chesapeake, Virginia as they also struggle with yet again another impact of gun violence. We're thinking about the violence that has occurred in our schools, not only for our children, but then even in the university settings where those things have occurred and so it might be difficult in this moment to find that spirit of Thanksgiving. So I was wrestling with that own feeling inside of myself. A couple of things came to mind. The first one was a scripture that I love, Hebrews 11, and one that says faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And it reminded me that even in the midst of this darkness, we have our faith. Not only this faith in God, that's sort of the energy that we have to propel that sense of gratitude, but we also have faith in one another. The faith I have is that in over 600 touchpoints in the Southern New England Conference across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, we do not have to be silenced by the violence that's happening in the world, but we could use it almost as a deeper motivator for us to stand up to make sure that our missional imprint to live the love and justice of Jesus is more powerful.

What we can do in a response to something like Club Q is to make sure that it's not just over 350 of our churches that have become open and affirming, but that we make an effort that there is not one church in the Southern New England Conference that hasn't gone through the open and affirming process. We can respond to the continual racist acts in this world by making sure that every single one of our faith communities has invested in an anti-racist practice. And in terms of gun violence, each and every one of our hope centers can be a voice to speak against the fact that we cannot get gun reform in this country. So my faith has propelled me to have hope. Hope that the spirit of the living God that's in me is also the spirit of the living God that's in you, that's in the spirit of 110,000 people across the region, that we will come together to make formative change.

I have Thanksgiving because I believe that together we can make sure that no one in this region is living without love and justice. Imagine if over 600 hope centers in the Southern New England Conference bonded together, binded together, that we would make sure that nobody in this region lives without love and justice. And if we bind ourselves together around that missional imprint, then my friends, I can find hope to be thankful this Thanksgiving. I can find hope to find gratitude because I know that we have not yet experienced the world that is to come. but I stand on the firm foundation that each and every one of us is a part of the framework to make it happen. We can do this. We can be the hope that allows a world to find thanksgiving. Now, I'm focusing on Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut because if we can get our house in order, my friends, then I'm assuming that what we do here will impact not only this country, but the world.

One of my favorite songs that I'll end this Thanksgiving message with says these words:
I will make the darkness light before you.
All your battles, I will fight before you.
And the high place, God said, I'll bring down
My friends. I believe that God will use each and every one of us to bring the high place down, the high place of transphobia, the high place of homophobia, the high place of sexism, the high place of racism, the high place of Christian nationalism. And the high place, God said, I bring down.
Siblings in Christ. I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving. I have hope in our collective work to change this region and the world, and I find gratitude because I believe in each and every one of us to find our place in this willful work of justice, that no one in our region will live a life without love and justice because our faith has compelled and propelled us to do something about it. I love you. Happy Thanksgiving.

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