Pastor’s Page

Pastor Finney | St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Sassamansville

Pastor Matthew Finney

Pastor Matthew Finney was unanimously installed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Sassamansville on Aug. 7 as the 21st pastor. Before receiving the call at St. Paul’s, Pastor Finney served a two-point parish in Western Pennsylvania known as Holy Shepherd Lutheran Parish which was a combination of Holy Trinity Parish in Lanse and Shepherd of the Hills Parish in Karthaus.

Pastor Finney brings many gifts to St. Paul’s. He received his master of divinity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2010. He also has a master of science degree in 2003 from North Carolina State University and a bachelor of science degree in 2000 from Purdue University both in agricultural science.

Giving thanks is at the heart of faith. Thanksgiving is what God seeks from us. When we gather to worship God, we offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, so thanksgiving is at the heart of worship. When we give thanks, we turn our attention away from ourselves and toward the one who has given to us. It is easy to get caught up in thinking about all the things we lack, but to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving fights against this all too human tendency. When we reflect on all the ways we are thankful in our life it helps us to see all of life with a healthier perspective.

To cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving takes time. It is not something we can decide to do and then achieve instantly. It is like a diet or exercise program. Things do not change after a day or two, but consistency over time brings results. Like anything worthwhile in life, it is about “showing up” day in and day out. When we practice thanksgiving, life begins to look differently. We see our blessings and our setbacks with new eyes.

So how can we cultivate and attitude of thanksgiving? We practice. Practice with prayer. It is easy to be focused on the things that are not going well when we pray. Of course, we need to pray about these things, the sickness, the stress, and the struggles of life, but we also need to take time to thank God for the blessings and joys of life. Individual prayer is essential and so is corporate prayer. Each week when we gather for worship, we collectively offer God our thanks and praise. It is important to spend time around other thankful people and join with them in offering thanks. Just like if you were trying to eat a healthy diet it would be more difficult if those around you ate nothing but junk food, so too if you are cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving but surrounded by those who are constantly focused on the negative and ungrateful it is more difficult to practice thanksgiving. Another way to practice thanksgiving is to serve others. By taking the time and effort to do something for another you give them an opportunity to be thankful, and you share the blessings that you have first received. Again, this helps us to focus on what we have over what we lack and changes our outlook on life.

A great place to practice thanksgiving is within your community of faith. For most of you reading this that would be St. Paul’s. Here we practice prayer. At FaithWorks each week we take time to share our “highs and lows” for the week. Then we pray for one another, we give thanks for the blessings of the week and we ask God’s help for the struggles of the week. In worship, we offer our thanks and praise each week. We have opportunities for service to others throughout the year. We have a community of thankful people around us to help us as we cultivate thanksgiving. Most of all we have the power of God given to us. If we ask God to give us a spirit of thanksgiving, then God will grant it to us.

Finally, we are blessed to be the host of this year’s community thanksgiving service. People from congregations throughout the Bally area will come to St. Paul’s to offer their thanks and praise to God. It is a great opportunity for us to be reminded of all that we are thankful for and to be surrounded by those who also practice an attitude of thanksgiving. The service will be Wednesday November 27th at 7 PM. After the service we will host refreshments in the fellowship hall. Please join us and take advantage of this opportunity to give thanks to God!