Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the United States. As I worked in my kitchen, the radio played an old program with classical music and readings. Actor Charles Laughton read Psalm 104, which sings God’s praise for all of creation. “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!” (Ps 104:24-25, 35b)
In the United Methodist mission statement Grace Upon Grace we find this: “Mission is…the church’s grateful response to what God has done, is doing, and will do.” Mission projects done by people through their local churches are grounded in our gratitude for God’s grace. Singing God’s praise in my kitchen as I worked to put a meal on the table for family, friends and neighbors, I was reminded that my impulse to do good in the world – to welcome the stranger, to comfort those who mourn, to help those who struggle – this impulse comes from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moves us to praise and to work.
Short term mission projects in the church are a witness to God’s love and an tangible expression of our gratitude for God’s love. Our work is an embodied thanksgiving, a witness to the world of God’s ever-present and everlasting love.