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Hopeful Story, October 18, 2015

  In our Thanksgiving services, people were given the opportunity to fill out and bring forward a note that said, “I especially appreciate 1. this object, 2. this person, 3. this activity and 4. this quality of God.
As the band played “Our God Reigns,” adults, young people and kids filled three baskets to overflowing with their expressions of thanks. It was a beautiful sight and a memorable experience that we repeated in our small group on Tuesday night and our Tabletalks for Seasoned Souls on Wednesday, with very positive results.
  Someone thanked me for coming up with a great idea. But it was actually Diane’s idea and I want to thank God for the way that she’s wired to always think of ways to increase people’s participation in worship.
  Here’s what happened. As Rod and I discussed the Thanksgiving services, I suggested inviting people to an open mike after the sermon to express their gratitude. Diane, who was in the e-mail loop because she was scheduled to lead the congregational prayer on Thanksgiving Day, chimed in and said, “I was wondering if we could include an element that would be more inclusive for those who would not come up to share. Like handing everyone a piece of paper to write down (or draw) what they are thankful for and just offer it to God in a basket at the front during prayer or a song?” I responded by saying, “Love it. It takes the idea to another level.” To which she replied, “I personally love the idea of getting people out of their seats in an act of response.”
  Following this exchange, I decided to give people four categories to ponder and fill in. As it turned out, moving from an object to a person to an activity to a quality of God allowed all of us to think more broadly and deeply about the things we appreciate. But none of this would have happened without Diane’s creative input. And so I want to publicly say what I wrote to her in private: “Thank you, Diane, for pushing us away from an open mike for a few to participation and movement by all.”
- Pastor Peter