Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday per se, but—other than treasured memories with family and socially permitted overeating—one benefit the holiday provides is to remind us to be grateful. And gratitude, of course, is deeply related to the spiritual life. When we frame our day, or our frustrating work dynamic, or our spout with our spouse with gratitude instead of resentment, our whole perspective and demeanor can change. At root, our existence is pure gift in the first place. It’s all a gift, even that we are breathing, right now, at all. The most attuned mystics and theologians even say that in addition to our creation, the world’s creation itself is a gift, generated our of Trinitarian love (Franciscan mystic Bonaventure, for one). Why wouldn’t we be grateful? There’s so much to be thankful for that, as the apostle Paul puts it, we rejoice, even in our sufferings (Romans 5:3).
We have a tremendous amount to be grateful for at First Church this month. We have your generosity to be grateful for, completing a successful 250th anniversary-themed capital campaign, featuring just about 90 donors giving over $300,000. We have that Task Force’s leadership to be thankful for: Bruce Grinnell, Katherine Myers, Bob Behr, Phil Smith, Susan Yates, and Susan Clarke. We have small groups to be grateful for: potlucks at Steve and Lynn Chick’s, Monica Mackey’s, and Jinx Tong’s households. We have regular meetings around criminal justice reform with Rev. Mark and others at the Water Street Grill, including the special meeting of faith communities with State Senator Adam Hinds and State Representative Candidate John Barrett.
We have Christian Education Director Beth Davis and Sunday School volunteers leading classes on the theme of Courage. We have Minister of Music Ed Lawrence helping us explore the Reformation through music and song (including a 2nd Hour talk on November 12). We have a savvy and sophisticated church in which to learn about and celebrate 500 years of Protestantism launched by Martin Luther’s Reformation.
It’s no small matter that we have talented and committee volunteers who gear up every November for the church’s administrative cycle: members of the Nominating Committee, Aaron Gordon our outgoing treasurer, and the Budget Task Force. We have Susan Clarke, Stewardship Team, and the co-moderators Jody Green and Katherine Myers to thank for working on the 2017 pledge drive letter. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
There is so much happening in our church, and it is the work not of one or two individuals, but rather the entire community. May this November lead us deeper into gratitude for each other, for our own lives, and for the extravagantly generous God in whom we live, move, and have our being.