Thanksgiving has come and gone - I hope you had a wonderful holiday. We celebrated in grand style at Shepherd King with worship on Wednesday night, Thanksgiving eve. Last year I started a new tradition here. Members are asked to bring a pie (preferably freshly baked) to Thanksgiving Eve worship. After the service we gather in the fellowship fall to sample each other's pies and enjoy fellowship. There were some delicious pies this year - in addition to my own home made pecan pie there were several apple, several pumpkin, a wonderful buttermilk chess pie (still warm), a chocolate pie, and a cherry pie. What a way to kick off the Thanksgiving weekend - with a pie fest! (And mother always told you not to eat your dessert first - hah!)
Gratitude ends up being our final act of worship in the liturgical church year. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is usually the first Sunday in Advent, and Advent begins a new church year. As children we are taught to say "thank you" and "please." Good manners go a long way to creating harmony in society. It's okay if our "thank yous" are mostly a habit, a response we make without much thought. But because saying "thank you" is something of a reflex it's good to have a day set aside for giving more thoughtful thanks.
We have so much for which to be grateful. We are a mobile society, able to travel a great distance in a short time which allows us to visit family and loved ones for a day or a long weekend. We have ample ways to stay in touch with those who live far from us. Most of us have plenty to eat, safe and comfortable homes, friends, freedom to pursue goals that are important to us, work to do, and time to rest. The world itself is a marvel in its scientific makeup and in its beauty. What a privilege to live as part of this wondrous creation. Do we say "thank you" often enough to the God who has blessed us with life?
On Thanksgiving Eve the people in worship had opportunity to voice their specific thanks. A blank sheet of paper was included in the bulletin and worshippers were asked to write a brief prayer of personal thanksgiving. The prayers were collected with the offering and read at the altar as the evening's prayers of the people. Here is a sample of those prayers: "I'm thankful for Jesus, toys, mice, my kitty, pumpkins, family, teachers..." "I'm very thankful for God being with me at all times..." "for the peace of God in the midst of trials and tribulatons..." "for a healthy family..." "for the hours and days spent with my grandchildren..." "for our nation..." "for my best friend..." "for the people of this congregation." There is always more to say, but with these words we tried to express our deep and abiding gratitude to God.
Thanks be to God for Jesus who redeems us and for people who walk with us. Thanks be to God for a past full of memories and a future full of hope. Thanks be to God for love and kindness, for justice and truth, for light in the darkness. Thanks be to God!