I have found that September was and October is looking like it will be BUSY! Not only does the school year start but the church year, at least unofficially, begins afresh in September after a restful summer. Meetings start-up again, it is important to re-connect and this, I expect, is the ramp up to the season of Advent!
For those of us who are in the Summer Distance program at AST… there are projects to complete, meetings with educational supervisors and site visits from the co-ordinator. As well, there are conference orientation events to prepare for or attend.
In the midst of this there is Thanksgiving! A time to show our gratitude for all that we have but it is also the time to put a face to those who have fewer resources than ourselves. It is frightening to explore all the ways in which there are people who, quite literally, have nothing. As my sermon/liturgy project this Sunday when my congregation will most likely be anticipating a feel good sermon about bounty and gratitude, they will be swallowing some grit with that! I will be leading them to ‘put a face to’ those agencies that they donate to. Who are the people who need the Caring Cupboard? Have you volunteered there to see? It is not enough to write a cheque or hand over a bag of non-perishables mostly just to feel good that you are ‘helping out’ and forgetting about it until ‘the next time’. All that they do is important and valuable work but I would like them to go that one step further. Step outside their comfort and rub shoulders with those less fortunate. Volunteering at the food bank, serving a meal at the mission, sorting clothes for the clothing shop…. expose us to individual human beings that are like us in so many ways!
I feel that I have the ability to say this because I have been at that place at a time that seems so very long ago now but nonetheless I was there. So it is only scary in our minds. They are people who have dignity too!
Most importantly this week, when they are sitting around the family table sharing the Thanksgiving feast of bounty, I hope that they will take a minute to acknowledge that somewhere in the world there are families but like their own who are sitting down to a table to share so very little, if anything.
My hope is just to get them to think about it! And once they have thought about it I hope that we can enter a conversation about what more we can do that will be meaningful not only to them but to those they wish to help.
So they may walk out of church on Sunday not feeling completely warm and fuzzy, I may have one or two that will be unhappy….I will have accomplished the simple fact that they have been moved from their place of complacency.
Social justice, social ministry…. key parts to ministry and that is not just my job but the job of all of us together.
Happy Thanksgiving (a bit early)! May God continue to bless you on your journey!