On Sunday in the sermon, I talked about how we Americans risk being like the 9 lepers who were healed, but didn’t ever think to say thanks (Luke 17:11-19). I suggested that perhaps we need to notice — like a newly arrived, maybe undocumented immigrant — the blessings we regularly receive from our country, simply by our residence here.
And noticing, I believe we’d end up like the Samaritan leper, turning back and offering our gratitude. My suggestion was that in thanksgiving, we undertake some act of healing for our divided nation in these particularly broken times in our body politic. Really, the nation could use some help right now.
What can you do in thanksgiving to effect some healing this week? You don’t need to solve the whole mess, heal every wound or build some bridge over the divide that seems irreparable.
But you could try NOT to fight with your relative over the Thanksgiving dinner whose opinions are anathema to you and who won’t stop talking politics.
Or you could volunteer this Saturday at the Food and Clothing Cupboard. Or later, at 1 pm, when we “green” the sanctuary for Advent.
Maybe it is as simple as working to build a relationship with someone who is on the other side of one of the many divides that separates us.
I affected one bit of healing on Tuesday, when I stood with low wage workers in a fight with American Airlines to get affordable health coverage.
Rich E., our Stewardship Director, followed right after the sermon with a Stewardship Moment. He was also reinforcing the stewardship letter he sent to the whole church last week. (If you did not see yours, let the church office know.)
Rich paralleled Michael’s take in the sermon. He exhorted us to notice the blessings that Old First brings to our life. Rather than divided and dividing like the nation these days, church is a community that works for inclusion and wholeness. We say the UCC is united and uniting.
And noticing how we feel blessed, Rich asked us to turn back, and in thanksgiving, offer a financial commitment to our ongoing ministry, work and life together.
Or, as he suggested in the letter,we could update our giving “style” — catching up our church transactions to the rest of our financial life these days — setting up recurring check payments with your bank for your regular stewardship giving.
I liked Rich’s suggestion, so I’ve been asking people how they’d name or describe the blessing that Old First is in their life:
“Old First is my spiritual community that makes me think about things I wouldn’t and ask questions I’d never knew I had.”
“Home for someone like me who doesn’t have any other family.”
“Where I want to raise my kids; I want them to see the world like Old First does.”
“It’s what keeps me from feeling crazy these days.”
“Someplace I think about more than come to, but find comforting that it’s out there.”
“Where I do my volunteer work, give back.”
“Church has always been there for me; I mean to be there for it.”
“Where I see my friends.”
“A different world where I see God is with me.”
“The promise I am part of something bigger than myself and all the little problems of my life.”
“A place I feel so loved that I am challenged to love myself and be my best.”
“A shelter, refuge, sanctuary.”
It was a short week: I wish I would have had more time to ask more people and hear more blessings. Maybe we will name the blessings that Old First is to us next week in worship, before we turn in our commitment cards?
Have a blessed Thanksgiving and be a blessing to others…
See you in Advent (on Sunday!),
If you are not going to be in church on Sunday or can’t hold back your thanksgiving for the blessings this church is to you, you can make a 2020 Stewardship Commitment online.