St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri
Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thanksgiving Giving Thanks Gratitude as a habit of the heart

The Thanksgiving Collect
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

How can we live these words?
Every time we contribute to Community Outreach Ministries, we assure that others can have food in time of need. St Alban’s used to have our own food pantry, as did other churches in the area. Several years ago we decided it was easier for clients and better for us all, to work together to have a single place in town where people can receive food and other necessities. In a small town, multiple groups doing the same thing is wasteful of resources. Everything can be purchased more cheaply by a larger, single organization. They are also always looking volunteers to assist on food distribution days.
But we also have the responsibility to work for, and to vote for, individuals who see the large number of hungry people in our country – and in our local area – as evidence that parts of our system are not working well. We really do need to assure that no one is hungry one all the other days of the year. And that is a legislative issue as well as a religious one; we came together years ago to pass the bills that made the Food Stamps program a reality. We can do more of that.
Our compassion is good. I am glad we give freely. I am glad we have the opportunity to assist needy families at Share Your Christmas with food and gifts. But I will be gladder still when there is less and less need for us to do that, because families are able to provide for themselves. There will always be opportunity for us to be generous – but we do not need to feel good about the fact that so many others cannot provide for basic needs.

Celebrate Together Wisely Celebrate well, this week – but carefully. Studies from across the world show that neither vaccinations alone nor masking alone are as good at containing the spread of COVID as using BOTH precautions.
At St Albans we continue to wear masks indoors, and to rejoice in what I belie to be our 100% vaccination rate, including for children 5 and older
A Couple of Days Off! I will be baking bread and doing other Thanksgiving things with my family tomorrow and Thursday. I will get the newsletter out again on Friday, to lead us into the first Sunday of Advent.Matthew 6:25-33Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat? Or what will we wear? “For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Minimalism is a social movement, but it is also a spiritual one. Nobody is happier with piles and piles of stuff. Part of our anxiety about giving freely is that we think we won’t have enough if we do. Fact is, we will. None of us are going hungry nor will we. None of us is without clothing – nor will be we. But most of us have lots of “stuff” we really don’t need or want and wonder why we bought in the first place. We will find gratitude easier when we relax our grip and can truly be thankful for the good things we have been given, and more grateful still when we pour a good part of it out on others. It just works that way. Seek first the kingdom of God – whose kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world, whose values are not those of the top 1%.

A Habit of Gratitude Some of you follow me on my personal Facebook page. If you do, you know I am on day 843 of a 30-day gratitude challenge I accepted more than two years ago. What I notice is that the more I am grateful, notice it and express it, the more I find to be thankful for. I expect never to stop this practice. And I am deeply grateful to each of you and for each one –
Sandy Sherry is doing a similar thing – and a wonderful one, on her page. Follow her if you aren’t! And find a way to do it yourself – in a journal, online, in any way – but DO share it with someone. That part reinforces the sense of awareness that leads to thankfulness.



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