I was supposed to give a message at tonight's Ecumenical Thanksgiving service - at least that's what I thought I was going to do until I got there and read the program. I had been given a whole 'nother part...doing a pasteurized responsal thing, where I say a line and then the flock says a line in response, neither of it our own - I am told what to say to them and they are told what to say back...I don't quite get the point of it all. Very different for me because Quakers don't do these types of things in worship.
I am pretty disappointed.
So it goes.
Anyhow, I will share my Thanksgiving message here with you...and you can respond anyway you want...
Thanksgiving is a day we give thanks to God for all that God has given us… God gave us this earth and all we grow and harvest. God gave us family and friends. God gave us His son…These are real gifts…
Thanks giving is also day that shows that we need each other – no less than the Indians and the Pilgrims found that they needed each other. Thanksgiving, like it was on that day long ago, is still about tolerance…accepting the differences in us all – physically and culturally.
An important theme of Quakerism is that “there is that of God in everyone”. Its not necessarily a belief or creed, but rather it is a practice of living – it’s a truth that guides us to be let go of our conditions and be peaceful to others. It is the truth that gives us the courage to put down our arms and take up service.
But this truth is hard to live. It’s not easy to always explore or celebrate differences. Many times we try to eliminate what is different. And I don’t mean to eliminate in a violent sort of way. Of course that happens, and it is happening now in many parts of our world. But I mean sometimes its by keeping our distance or turning our backs, or erecting borders around us. Many times we do it unconsciously.
To tolerate is to let go of fears. It is to learn. It is to listen. It is to accept…it is to invite someone into your world so to share it with…We know that none of these things are easy. Its hard. Just as you might do, I too struggle to be open to others.
But our ancestors, on Thanksgiving Day, were able to do that. That is why Thanksgiving is not about arrows and muskets….it is not about an Indian raid or a new world conquest. Its about peace. Its about sitting down with each other. Its about giving ourselves to others…
Diversity is a gift that God gave us and that we should be thankful for…
But without tolerance, we will never know this gift, and without tolerance, we will never know peace.
When it gets hard, we need try to remember, that “there is that of God in everyone”.
I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!