(Posted November 18, 2016)
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.
And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
--Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer
This Sunday is our special Thanksgiving Service at First Church. The doors of our church are always open to everyone, of course, but even more so this week because, after all, this is Thanksgiving. It’s a celebration that recalls how, working together as family, as community, and with the help of friends outside our circle, we could meet the challenges of life on the edge of the wilderness – life on the edge of the unknown.
Jesus taught us that it is not ourselves who can take credit for providing us with the Bread of Life, but God, who knows the path we will need to take, living in a new landscape.
Of course, we Congregationalists are the direct theological descendants of those first English settlers who stepped off the boats in 1620 and 1626 Massachusetts into “God knows what fate.” We are a Pilgrim People who realized that our survival then in this land was very much dependent on the kindness of people who did not share our skin color or our ethnic background. And it still does. It makes a community strong against the storms.
We STILL ARE a Pilgrim people. And we still live on the edge of a new wilderness where the hate-filled beasts of this forest still stalk around our neighborhood in the form of evil scrawled on walls and uttered venom at strangers. What saves us is the remembering of Gratitude. Gratitude for one another. Gratitude for the stranger. Gratitude for a few good friends of our own and more so for the Body of Christ that is assembled in our church sanctuary each week. Gratitude in knowing that love will always overcome evil.
On this celebration of kindred people, I can’t help to recall the first people in each of our respective families- our first generations who made a pilgrimage of hope to get to America. Perhaps you can take a moment at the beginning of your Thanksgiving dinner to remember your own family pilgrims, too. Be grateful for their bravery, overcoming language barriers, overcoming discrimination because of their different-ness, having faith beyond reason that God will make it all right in the end. If you would really honor them, invite someone to your table who has nowhere else to go. For in doing so, you invite Christ to break bread with you.
On behalf of all of the Staff at First Church, have a beautiful Thanksgiving, and be with us Sunday for the First Church celebration. I share this link to a beautiful poem by Louisa May Alcott and video as a small gift to you.
--- Pastor Pat Kriss