Dear friends,

it was very easy to tell people that I was able to meet during the different events for how long I’ll stay here in Whitehall. Speaking that I’ll be here by the end of September, or three months, was wonderful – it seemed so long. However, now that I realize that I’m staying here for only three more days, it’s not wonderful. But I had a wonderful time for which I am grateful. As the name of my, I hope not the last one, blog says: gratitude is the fruit of the Spirit. Throughout my stay here in America, I was experiencing God’s generosity and through to the people thankfulness, gratitude. Yesterday service was the last time for me to time to speak to the service visitor in Lebanon Lutheran from the pulpit. It was a very strong moment for me and I tried to enjoy every moment, knowing that this was the last time I am doing that here. I would like to give my thanks to God for His help, protection, strength, blessing, for many experiences, for the challenges, but also for the lessons He accompanied me during these months. It was not always easy or beautiful, but when one has a safety, trust and hope in the one who sacrificed our life for us, he will go along with Him.

Since pastor traveled to Ohio, I’ve done the both services by myself. I have never done them alone before, so I was nervous. As it is written in Smalkald Articles of Dr. Martin Luther, I had “the power of the keys” – but only of the church keys. I needed to come here as first to unlock the church and prepare everything for service. I always liked the first service at 8am because I can see people’s reaction on my sermon and after sermon I have chance to change something, that I done wrong or maybe do not pay attention as I could. Since we didn’t have the “Signs of God’s Grace” that we have seen during the week, I told mine at the end of my sermon in order to thank all those who support this program. In my sermon, I was talking about the gratitude that King David often use in the psalms.

Whatever David had done, even though it wasn’t good for him, David is always grateful and he says: “Thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. But to be sure, David wasn’t always a perfect man – neither we are – but what is significant is that he himself realizes his mistakes. And all these moments led David to God again on his knees when he glorified Him, praised, prayed humbly and reminded everyone to give thanks to the Lord.

Jesus told us through the Gospel from this Sunday that: “whoever welcomes one child welcomes me”. And I need to say, that they welcomed such a child in their life during this summer. A child, that came to their life, to their community, to their family. A child, who gave thanks to the God, that it could be there. A child with whom they have shared house, life, problems and joys. I always appreciated and I was grateful for every nice word, a smile or a handshake after service.

Our gratitude is in the recognition of God’s grace. This means that even what I experienced, what I missed, moved me somewhere further. I have ability to confess my failures, confess my mistake, I can forgive and accept forgiveness, and especially I can come to Him who is capable and willing to help me. To Him, who knows me and who understands me. Who went through the same way that I am now going through. The love of God, which is known to all the world is in Jesus Christ, which gives us a great reason to rejoice and to be thankful. For not only such good, exceptional men as David found favor and grace with God. We are all God’s creation, children of the Heavenly Father (ELW 781), we are all His chosen, we all find grace in God through our Savior. When we assess our personal life today, when we see all the gifts of God’s grace that are fulfilling us today … we also come to the same knowledge as David. We need sincerely give thanks to God with all our heart.

Otherwise, I’m currently living with the last family – this time with Laura, with whom I will spend my last days here in the US. I am very grateful that I can be part of her life, even for so short time. Last week, pastor Doug ask me if I want to preach during the funeral that was on Wednesday. Since we were in Chicago and “thanks” to the other events which we had, I didn’t had the opportunity to prepare sermon for this funeral, so he preached.

I’m grateful that I can/could be here. I came here with one suitcase that I had already packed and closed, and I’ve started with packing the second suitcase – even though I said that I wanted to go back with only one … I hope, that I will pack everything I want. On Thursday morning I’ll go home.

So, don’t forget to come here next Monday even though I will be back home in Bratislava, because I’ll let you know how I spent my last days.

Until next time, bye!