God gives daily bread even without our prayer, but we pray that He would lead us to realize this, and that He would open our hands and mouths and hearts to receive His gifts of daily bread with thanksgiving. Here are twenty slices of that good loaf for which I am giving thanks this year:
1. Our own house and home, and the many people, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like, who have helped us to make it so.
2. Zach & Bekah's visit at Epiphany 2008, shortly after their engagement; and the wonderful chance I had to visit them in Texas a few weeks after that; also, that I was on hand when Zach fell after giving blood, and that he was spared any lasting hurt.
3. The precious gift of life that God graciously bestowed upon our Job, so briefly here in time, but now and hereafter eternally in the nearer presence of Christ; and, because our dear little Job has surpassed us all in going ahead of us to heaven, the life that God has now granted to our unborn daughter, Katharina. In this, our Job has shown himself a gentleman, indeed, giving way his place to a young lady.
4. Emmaus, for numerous reasons, including: that the congregation expects and encourages me to be and do those things that a pastor is actually called to be and do, instead of asking me to be a pop psychologist, an entertainer, a fundraiser and marketing exec; that we are blessed with an excellent assistant pastor; that we have such great music at Emmaus, including the regular singing of the richest and most robust hymns in the history of the Church; that our life together as a congregation is defined liturgically and catechetically, rather than socially, emotionally, programmatically or artificially; that our youth are faithful and pious, good-humored and friendly, and actively involved in the life of the congregation; and that little children comprise such a large percentage of our church family. (And thanks to Karin for her recent blog posts on our Emmaus congregation, which were such an encouragement.)
5. The opportunities I have been given to teach at the Lutheran seminary in Novosibirsk, and the very dear friends that I have met there each time.
6. The Church Fathers and the ready availability of their writings and information about them.
7. DoRena and Sam; their marvelous wedding; and their unborn daughter, Sarena.
8. Zach and Rebekah; their marvelous wedding; their good jobs in this difficult economy, and Zach's good grades and great scholarships at Sam Houston State University.
9. The good and faithful pastors that Christ has provided for DoRena and Sam in Fort Wayne, and for Zach and Rebekah in Texas.
10. Higher Things, and the privilege of serving as a conference chaplain.
11. The Concordia Catechetical Academy, despite the fact that I've not been able to attend the annual CCA symposium for the past two summers (with earnest hopes for the summer of 2009).
12. The Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds, both individually and collectively, even though our blog has lately been a little slow.
13. The hymns of Paul Gerhardt, and the steady progress of the Gerhardt Hymn Project.
14. Fresh vegetables from the garden, especially the broccoli, which was particularly tasty.
15. Our most recent goddaughter, Ingrid (and our several other godchildren, Penelope, Egon, Chase and Alexandria).
16. Our United States Constitution and remarkable form of government, and the freedom to study and learn about these things.
17. The opportunity I was given to research and write my dissertation, and the privilege I now have to work on writing a book on the basis of my dissertation research.
18. The Treasury of Daily Prayer, which is itself an answer to prayer.
19. Panera Bread, unlimited refills on ice tea, and free wireless internet, apart from which I would be significantly less productive and at a loss as to my regular routine.
20. Amazon.com, even if it does entice me to buy too many books.
Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good,
and His mercy endures forever.