The scent of turkey and ham wafted into the sanctuary during worship Sunday. First Parish holds a Thanksgiving-style dinner every year in late October, and the cooking goes on down in the kitchen while we sing and pray upstairs. In Sunday School, students made tissue paper flowers to fill vases for each table. After worship we gathered, long-timers and brand new members, from the oldest to the most recently baptized baby, relatives and even a surprised visitor or two, all warmed by the company and nourished by the delights of the harvest season. The ham came from a farm within the congregation. The stuffing, the squash, the apple crisp all represent traditions we recognize from our homes. The smell of sage reminds us there is wisdom in giving thanks for what we have. The smiles around each table, the kind words of the servers, the eagerness even of those clearing up and doing dishes convince me that we do not simply go through the motions. We truly give thanks for all we have together.
Before the meal, as our grace, we sang the lovely hymn set to the tune, Ar Hyd Y Nos, more familiar as the lullaby, "All Through the Night." A capella, we raised our voices and shared this prayer:
For the fruit of all creation, thanks be to God.
For God's gifts to every nation, thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping, silent growth while we are sleeping,
Future needs in earth's safekeeping, thanks be to God.
In the just reward of labor, God's will is done.
In the help we give our neighbor, God's will is done.
In our worldwide task of caring for the hungry and despairing,
In the harvests we are sharing, God's will is done.
For the harvests of the Spirit, thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit, thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us, for the truths that still confound us,
Most of all that love has found us, thanks be to God.
Most of all that love has found us, we sang, and love filled the room. That is no small thing when you worry about your health or your job or your bank balance. No matter the anxiety of the times, Love permeates our lives together. Thanks be to God.