November 18, 2018

Later this week, most of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate the uniquely wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. Here at Lourdes, our marking of the annual holiday will begin tomorrow evening with the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service taking place at Temple Ramat Zion (Devonshire & White Oak). On Thanksgiving Day itself, we will gather in Church at 9am for our communal Eucharistic celebration. These are two events that I have come to particularly enjoy, year to year.

I greatly enjoy being a part of our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. There are few occasions during the year when I actively engage with people of other faiths and join them in prayer. For many years, here at Lourdes we joined with our brothers and sisters in faith from across the street at Northridge United Methodist Church. It was a grace when in my first year here we grew to the participation of two additional faith communities, that of Temple Ramat Zion and the local Islamic Center. Christians, Muslims and Jews gathering together in prayer is a profound statement that stands in sharp contrast to religious intolerance and bigotry that often steals headlines. For myself, it is an occasion to express deep gratitude to God for the wonderful people of our local community, who though we worship in different ways and in different places, are nonetheless able to extend hands of friendship and goodwill. It is an affirmation, for me, of the basic decency of people, despite our differences. This decency and ‘will to the good’ on the part of our faith communities is not something to take for granted. It’s a good thing to remember that my neighbors, believers too in the one, true, God, are also doing their best in this world of ours to raise their children, to provide for themselves and their families, to look out for the less fortunate among us, to endeavor to conduct themselves with integrity in the course of their day, and to hopefully reach the end of their day having met their responsibilities and made the world a slightly better place than it was when we began the day.

Thanksgiving Day itself is very special in my experience. It is a uniquely American holiday, and one which I completely embrace as an immigrant who has made my home and my life in this, my adopted country. There are other holidays through the year that express patriotism, that celebrate achievement, that acknowledge momentous events in history. But Thanksgiving is a time that simply allows us to reflect upon and name that for which we are grateful. Perhaps we’re grateful for the visit of family members, perhaps we’re grateful for the conclusion of such visits. Perhaps we’re grateful for having a job, a roof over our heads, food on our tables, our health, our being alive for one more year. Perhaps we’re grateful for opportunity in education or in work, or for new experiences never before considered. Perhaps we’re grateful for the love of a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent, a partner, or a friend. Perhaps we’re grateful for the giggling of a child, the peaceful sleep of a newborn, the anticipation of new life. Perhaps we’re grateful for the “becoming” of an adult, the enlarging of a family, the growth of relationships. Perhaps we’re grateful for the goodness of nature, the delights of a sunrise, the magic of a night sky, the creativity of an artist, the poetry of a muse. Perhaps we’re grateful for...

It is good to take some time to consider that for which we are grateful in our lives. Naming that which we consider is an important part of disposing ourselves to joy in life. When we can name that for which we are grateful, we grow in our own human capacity for happiness and joy. We acknowledge that we ourselves are not the creators, but the beneficiaries of so much in our lives. And if we bring ourselves to have the courage to share with another for whom we are grateful, or to whom we are grateful, then we will feed our souls and become more and more the person God invites us to become.

Celebrating all of this at our annual Parish Thanksgiving Mass is one of my favorite moments in our parish life. The word “Eucharist” itself means “Thanksgiving”. To come together and to lay on the altar of blessing all that for which we are grateful to God brings us more fully and more completely into the great gift of Jesus’ own self for us. We share gratitude for life itself, for the very gift of our being.

“Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing…”

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.



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