By Janis Fontaine
Looking back over the last 18 months and the holidays of 2020, there’s a lot we could criticize, complain and cry about.
But the clergy who serve our community remind us that God loves a grateful heart and they, as leaders, are the first to sing his praises. Let’s join our hearts and voices with theirs and be thankful for what these last difficult months have taught us.
Four clergy leaders share what they’re grateful for as we close out 2021:
The Rev. Martin W. Zlatic, rector, Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Boynton Beach:
I’m grateful God has brought us through this and for the commitment of a skeleton crew of people who kept the church going.
I’m grateful to members of the medical community, especially Barbara MacKenzie, our parish nurse, and Lyn Pope, an expert in industrial sanitation, who helped us keep things healthy. We didn’t have one incident.
I’m almost grateful for COVID because it enabled so many individuals to examine their priorities. That’s just one blessing coming out of this.
Father Benjamin Thomas of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Boca Raton:
I’m thankful that COVID held up a mirror to show us ourselves. We learned about our own deepest yearnings, and we were able to reassess our routines and habits. We stopped doing things by rote and thought about why we do them.
I’m thankful that I’ve been able to reach so many people via Zoom that I never would have reached. A couple who lives on a boat in Puget Sound became regular participants in my Zoom courses, and I think I’ve had viewers from 43 states and 18 countries. The teaching aspect that I love transmits very well on Zoom and I’m grateful for that.
Rabbi Shmuel Biston, Chabad of East Delray:
I’m grateful that people are returning to the synagogue, and that we are attracting new people. We had 75 people at a recent young professionals’ event. Our services for the High Holidays were standing room only. And that people know that it’s OK to bring their children with them to synagogue, and that they feel welcomed. The sounds of children will never bother me.
I’m grateful for jokes and laughter and my sense of humor, which are a big part of my services. Humor lets me keep a positive perspective and not take myself too seriously.
I’m grateful for my wife, who is pregnant with our second child, and the community members who have stepped up to help her and have taken ownership as members.
Pastor Andy Hagen, Advent Life Ministries:
I am deeply thankful to have been a witness of the goodness of believers who took care of each other and prayed for each other and loved each other through the last two years of trauma.
I am thankful for the courage and commitment of teachers and staff that serve over 450 children in our schools and those that care for the 40 residents at our senior living center.
The moment that touched me most recently was when a volunteer for our food distribution in Lantana approached me with a $100 bill and said, “Give this to a family and just tell them this is from someone that cares.” It was my privilege to watch the anxious face of one mother light up with joy and thanksgiving when I gave her the bill.
In the end, the best way to give thanks is to give to those in need without expecting thanksgiving in return. This Thanksgiving I recommend that we go and do likewise.
Janis Fontaine writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.