With Prayer and Thanksgiving

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:3-6

St. Paul pastored several congregations throughout his ministry. Because he traveled so often, and because they didn’t have Facebook back in the day, Paul wrote letters to stay connected with the faith communities he had served. And when he reflected on his time in those communities what came to his mind were not the hardships or even the accomplishments; it was the people with whom he served. Paul’s letters are filled with expressions of love and gratitude for the saints.

Last week I celebrated ten years of ministry at Prince of Peace. As I think back over the past ten years there is much to celebrate.

  • We eliminated $5 million in debt during one of the worst economic downturns in modern history.
  • We discerned a clear vision to collaboratively provide hope and wholeness to all people south of the river, with specific emphasis on children, seniors and people in poverty.
  • We became a fully inclusive congregation with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
  • We developed partnerships to enhance our ability to provide hope and wholeness to people around the corner and around the world, packing millions of meals for starving children, providing necessities through the Mission Outpost and providing dental care for people in need.
  • We launched a building project to enhance ministry and provide a solid foundation for generations to come.

And that just scratches the surface. But as I look back what comes to mind are the people with whom I serve. My staff colleagues are some of the most gifted, kind, effective and fun-loving people on the planet. Our Board of Directors bends over backwards to support and enhance our mission and vision. And the members of this congregation continually amaze me with their kindness, generosity, faithfulness and selfless service. “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to God.” Indeed!

What a great reminder that when it’s all said and done what will always matter in life is not our accomplishments or failures, but the people who have loved and blessed us along the way. Everything else will pass away, but love endures forever.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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