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Our American Thanksgiving Day, is essentially how we act out “an attitude of gratitude”. It is a national tradition built on recognizing that we have received many blessings from God. Collectively, we are called to humbly recognize His handiwork in all that we have received, and be grateful for the many ways in which we are able to share that Divine love with others.

Although that first cold Massachusetts winter had killed off half of their colony, a new hope for survival grew in the summer of 1621. A bountiful corn harvest brought relief and celebration. A new kind of bread had been developed, not used anyplace else in the world: delicious cornbread. There were also corn cakes, geese, ducks, wild turkeys and venison, along with plenty of fish. Most of their new methods of planting (e.g. utilizing fish scraps for fertilizer), had been learned from the friendly and helpful natives they called Indians. Because of this plentiful season, the governor of the Plymouth Colony decreed a three day feast, a great Thanksgiving, for the purpose of prayer and celebration on July 30, 1623.

This annual Thanksgiving celebration spread to other New England colonies. In 1789, our first President of this free nation issued a proclamation naming November 26 a day of American Thanksgiving. However, the idea was not nationally adopted until 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November to become "a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." Each year for 75 years the President would issue an official proclamation of Thanksgiving Day. Congress ruled in 1941 that the fourth Thursday in November would be Thanksgiving Day, and a legal federal holiday for prayer and thanksgiving to God.

Today, Thanksgiving Day is a family time. Did you know that there are more airplane seats sold at this time than at any other time of the year (including Christmas)? Family members work hard to reach their homes by Thanksgiving!

I know about this personally, because the church where I served in Ontario, Canada, was 600 miles away from my hometown of Lynchburg, VA. I can attest to the odd situation of not being able to sit with my family around the traditional feast. It certainly brought on feelings of loneliness when I was single.

People who have outlived their immediate family members, or those who live far away from their hometowns, often find relief and genuine fellowship when they renew those family feelings by gathering with dear friends. In a real way, Thanksgiving Day draws out an appreciation for family, or, “friends who are our chosen family”. We gather together to feast, but also to ask the Lord's blessing. Even family’s that don’t regularly pray around the dinner table, find themselves wanting to participate in this humble tradition of thanking God for the blessings they have experienced, and to ask for guidance for the year ahead.

Our church will celebrate this heartfelt season with three wonderful traditions:

  1. Nov. 20, 2011 ~ The 10:30am service is Woman's Day. Rev. Sandy Selby, of Furnace Street Mission is our guest preacher (check out The women of our church are remarkable. They do so much to motivate and energize our mission work, our fundraisers, and our worship. The teamwork in this congregation is reflective of the best of James 2:14-26. Song, dance, music, prayer and preaching – a service not to be missed!
  2. Chef Greg and his committee will have a feast ready for our enjoyment after that very special worship service. Together, we will gather around tables as part of the family of Jesus Christ. We won’t only thank God for blessing us, will ask God to guide our congregation in the year ahead.
  3. We have the unique opportunity to attend a community Thanksgiving Eve Service! There are countries where freedom of religious expression is not permitted. There are cities where neighboring churches don’t speak. We have the privilege of driving down the road to join other Christians in putting God first this Thanksgiving. Come and celebrate the season: 7:00pm at the Springfield Church of the Brethren (3500 Albrecht Avenue).

Wherever you celebrate Thanksgiving, know that we are praying for you, and that we treasure your prayers for our congregation, too!

~Pastor J

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