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Holiday tableAs I sat down for Christmas dinner with my partner, his three kids, their mom and their stepdad, I asked everyone to take a moment to share some words of gratitude for the year.

“But this isn’t Thanksgiving!” objected our 14-year-old.

“You’re right,” agreed his stepdad, smiling. “But Amalia didn’t say, ‘Give thanks.’  She said, ‘Gratitude,’ and that’s what this day is for.”

During this continuing season of Christmas and into the New Year celebration, many of us take time to slow down and reflect.  For me, this kind of reflection leads to a sense of abundance, grace, and gratitude.  And ever the optimist, I’m always ready to leave the difficulties of one year behind and start looking forward to the yet unknown joys of the year to come.

Part of the reason for this heightened sense of gratitude and abundance is that this is also the time of year when many people choose to write checks in support of ministries and nonprofits they care about. While last week was filled with some relaxing time with friends and family, this week is busy for many of us as we process your contributions and send a note to you sharing our thanks. In fact, I’m taking a short break from those notes to write this post. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity and commitment of the supporters of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, and by their gratitude for this ministry.

“Thanks for your continued ministry!” one person wrote with their contribution.

“Thanks for the great work you do.” wrote another.

One member of Proclaim sent us an updated email address and included this note, “ELM really is an amazing organization that makes a huge difference in the lives of people, congregations and the world.”

Your contributions mean so much to us.  We couldn’t do the work you care about without them. ELM is funded almost entirely by contributions from individuals, congregations and ministries. Your contributions also mean more–they mean that you care about this mission. They mean that you also believe that by supporting LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians we can continue to change the church, to make it more fully inclusive to all people.

And so, today, on this second to last day of 2011, I give thanks for you, and for all that you do.

And in the coming year, I look forward to finding new and expanding ways for this community to work together for this common vision of an inclusive and welcoming church and society.