Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
This time of the year we become much more connected to our sense of thankfulness.
I’m thinking of my own sense of thankfulness for our church today. One of the many things I love so much about the church is the thought of seeing ourselves as brothers and sisters, responding to each other, taking care of one another and literally anyone else in the community we can. This is the very core of who we are and what our purpose is. And VERY much the opposite of what media and social commentators are calling the deterioration of our society and culture in the wake of unabated consumerism, exploitive capitalism, overexposure to psychopathic political trends that seem global but certainly are not … and so on.
The church, in my mind, matters more now than ever. And yet these days it seems that the many in society look at the church as a dying institution, irrelevant, archaic, steeped in traditions that do not hold up to intelligent and rational scrutiny. But as time goes on I understand more and more how profoundly wrong that perspective is.
So often I see someone sitting in a pew, their face and hands held tighter than most others. I feel thankful that whatever is being held in that heart, or struggled with in that moment, we can offer a place where that person can feel surrounded and supported by God and by everyone else sitting on those hard pews. I feel thankful for every community group, social event, committee and volunteer and every single thing they do just to keep our church going, so that someone… and there are so many someones… can find sanctuary and support here.
I am profoundly thankful that we feel so passionate about the world we live in and every brother and sister in it. Literally every church you and I may see or pass on our way to or from work, running errands or just walking along the sidewalk on a nice evening is a place full of people who are enjoying that place as a gathering point. From that gathering point come ministries and efforts that reach into more lives supportively than most are aware.
If only we could see the invisible lines that spread out from that one place and connect to challenges that range from environmental issues we face, to the issues of justice, unfairness and struggles being taken on. If we could see the invisible lines where that one little place is connecting and responding to a hurricane, emergency relief, or to people in a place halfway around the world where there is war, hunger or the erosion of human rights that need to be fought for.
If only we could see the invisible lines of each person who feels they belong to that little place! People who are always changing their lifestyle as consumerists to resist and protest consumption, pollution, climate change, and things we know are wrong.
If we could see the invisible lines from that little place that connect to literally hundreds of other people living within a few kilometers of our church building we would see hundreds, even thousands of people who have been members over the generations, and have found spiritual, emotional and unconditional support.
This Thanksgiving I am of a thankful mind for whom and what we are. I invite you to come and share a little time together on Thanksgiving Sunday (9:00 am traditional service or 10:30 am contemporary service) and join us. Not in a place where traditions and rituals are performed out of habit and irrelevancy, but rather in a place that affirms the core of all that matters and who we seek to be as human beings, connected to God and connected to one another.
The Rev’d Mark Pretty