The month of November is inevitably focused on the Thanksgiving holiday, the wonderful family traditions and foods this special day affords. Sadly, this year, Thanksgiving day may look much different for you and your family as we continue to make careful decisions during the pandemic. Gratefully, Thanksgiving is not just one day of the month, however, it is meant to be a daily exercise of our faith.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The act of being thankful is essentially two sided though. One can’t be thankful without also allowing oneself to receive a gift in the first place. For many of us, accepting compliments can be difficult because we might not feel we’ve earned the comment or accolade or we’re simply trying to be humble. Yet, we are called from the moment of creation to accept the gift of life, the gift of this earth and all of its inhabitants. We are also called to care for those parts of creation that God has gifted. So, we must receive that gift fully, truly take on the responsibility included in that gift and be humble enough to remember that God’s gifts are freely and lovingly given.
How can we be better about being thankful? We must ask ourselves, have I done all that God has asked me to do? Have I loved my neighbor and worked to care for all of creation? Have I taken the time to think about the blessings in my life and how God has been present along the way?
Surprisingly, Advent is a few short weeks away. It is a glorious season of preparation filled normally with beautiful Church decorations and inspiring music. This year it will also look different due to the health precautions the parish has in place that allow us to gather for mass, but that doesn’t mean the season should be any less spectacular. Before we can prepare to make room in our hearts for the birth of Christ, we must continue to work on this concept of being thankful. Lately I’ve heard plenty of rhetoric that 2020 has given us nothing to be happy about or for which to be thankful.
There has undoubtedly been much anxiety, pain and death In our recent history, still, I am hopeful of what the next weeks and months will potentially bring for our entire community. Also, I would counter the argument that 2020 has given nothing to be thankful for with feeling grateful, thankful and blessed for more time spent at home with family and finding ever-more-creative ways to keep in touch with and stay connected to friends, loved ones and even colleagues.
Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Time and again I have seen the OLBS parishioners pull together to support each other in prayer and action. Whether it be for PADS suppers, the Rake ‘n Run, packing Halloween treat bags, Ministers of Care, Outreach Calls to parishioners, planning for All Souls’ Day or writing messages for seniors at Alexian Village (and that’s just the month of October!), parishioners of all ages eagerly seek ways to ensure we are there for one another. This is undeniably a gift! This is also exactly what Christ charged us with doing when we were entrusted to build up his kingdom.
Throughout this month of November and as we near the reflective holiday of Thanksgiving, I hold you all in my prayers. I hope that you know you are a gift From God and that God has blessed you with many other gifts as well.