Shirley: Seek gratitude

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2016

The annual Brundidge Community Thanksgiving Service was held Tuesday night at Salem Baptist Church with the Rev. Ed Shirley, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church, delivering the message.

Shirley used Peanuts’ hard-luck Charlie Brown as the subject of his message to those who gathered for a shared time of thanksgiving.

“We have just bid farewell to October 2016. Perhaps, the tradition has continued through several generations of watching, ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’” Shirley said. “This Halloween special featuring the Peanuts gang first aired on CBS October 27, 1966. The Peanuts gang tricked or treated from door to door. After every stop, they looked in their bags then announced what they got. Charlie Brown was always the last to tell what he got.”

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Charlie Brown always got a rock.

“For 50 years, Charlie Brown has been getting rocks,” Shirley said. “I imagine he has a large pile of rocks by now.

“Our passage of scripture, Joshua 4: 19-24, is at that very point when the Israelites crossed the swollen waters of the Jordan River that were held back by the mighty power of God. Scholars believe that the total crossing the Jordan River numbered over 2.5 million. The number had slightly diminished over the 40 years of wandering in the desert after they crossed the Red Sea in their deliverance by God from the Egyptians. For God determined that a generation should pass because of their disobedience to move forward in faith before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land.”

Shirley said the Bible records the crossing in a few descriptive words as though it was a short time but, for that many people to cross, it must have taken days.

“Imagine walking next to a giant wall of churning water just a few feet from you. But remaining calm because you know the Lord has everything under His control. And, you can see a crowd of those faithful press forward over to the other side.”

Shirley said the crossing of the Jordan River must have been a wonderful experience.

“Eighty-year-old Joshua told his brothers and sisters in the Lord to tell the story of thankful deliverance to all generations in the future and let every rock you gather be a message of thanks to the Lord,” Shirley said. “Stack those many rocks high to tell everyone who passes by that you are thankful to the Lord who delivers His people from oppression and danger.”

The Lord had done to the Jordan what He had done to the Red Sea so that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful, Shirley said.

“If all your acknowledgements of thanks to God were rocks, how big a pile would you have in your life today? And Joshua would say, ‘Show your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that pile of rocks. Tell them the stories of all the accomplishments and joys in your life. Be sure to add to every story this statement: I give thanks to my Lord who brought me through to see this day.’”