Looking out over the audience of the Community Thanksgiving Service, Lauren Lambert-Goheen saw “a group of survivors.

“We’ve made it through some incredible, unexpected and extraordinary times,” she said. “We have survived despite pandemic. We have survived despite all of the division described in media and other places. And yet, somehow, we are still resilient and rooted in faith. Each one of us here tonight has come through pain, suffering and decided that, of all the things we can do on a Tuesday evening, worshipping together as community of faith takes priority. What an incredible thing we have come to this moment together — survivors of so many things that could have, and might have, torn us apart.”

The Massac County Ministerial Alliance held the annual service on Nov. 23 at Trinity Presbyterian Church where Lambert-Goheen is pastor.

Lambert-Goheen said the goal of the service is to “consider what it is as a community to give thanks with a grateful heart.”

For her message, Lambert-Goheen used I Peter 5:1-11, a passage she came across while flying to a ministry opportunity. She shared that she found the airport’s chapel and “opened the Bible to see what might be spoken to me. Here lay in front of me, ‘God opposes the proud but will exalt the humble.’ ” That humility, she said, “is what God is all about and that is what this world of division needs.”

Lambert-Goheen noted the passage as a whole presents a challenge.

“We read in scripture that God does not care for pride. The challenge for all of us in faith is humility. Our culture says first is best, last is least. Yet, here we are, challenged by scripture that says if we are to demonstrate faith, we are to demonstrate humility,” she said.

Lambert-Goheen focused on three verses from the passage, I Peter 5:7-9, and gave four points:

• Verse 7’s “Cast all your anxiety on Him,” she said, “means our worry, our concern, our pain, our grudges. When we hold a grudge, we hold power over someone else. We have (in verse 6) about pride and humility. If we’re holding onto a grudge, we’re holding power over someone else.”

• Verse 7 “tells us to give it all to Him — ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ ” She noted our usual reaction is to “give God just a little bit of control just to see what God might do with what we’ve given God. And then we pull it back and say, ‘You know what, God, You didn’t get that done for me.’ Do we truly trust God has our best interest at heart?”

• Verse 8 says to “discipline yourselves and keep alert.” Lambert-Goheen said according to her grandfather, “Discipline is doing what needs to be done.” She said when she would go to him for advice, “he didn’t give me the decision, he challenged me to be disciplined in how I might move forward. … What is it in your life that you have yet to be able to apply the principles of discipline to so you might be that person you have been called to be in this world, in your family, in this community? What is it that are the rough edges that continue to irritate no one else but you, because you know you’re not quite finished yet?”

• Verse 9 — “Resist him steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” — she said shows “it’s not just us; all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are suffering, too. … When we feel and imagine that the pain and suffering of mind, body and spirit going on within us is ours alone, that is when you have to resist. When you feel alienated, isolated and alone in your pain, that’s exactly where the spirit of chaos wants you to be because now you’re vulnerable, weak, not strong — you’ve become prey.

“In this moment, we are all together, not one of us alone,” Lambert-Goheen concluded. “As we leave from this place into our own lives and communities of worship, we do not go alone because we didn’t come here alone.”

The service concluded with the annual donation collected for COPE (Christian Outreach Program Emergency) Food Pantry, which the Ministerial Alliance began in the late 1970s to provide food assistance to families and individuals. Monetary donations made out to COPE can be mailed to COPE, P.O. Box 761, Metropolis, IL 62960.

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