Food for the spirit:
for things not visible to the human eye
A monthly column for the PC(USA)
by the General Assembly stated clerk by the Rev. Gradye Parsons,
General Assembly stated clerk
Louisville — November 18,
Maybe we should skip
Thanksgiving this year.
After all, it has been a
rough fall. Our investment crops have been devastated. Our long election
campaign has left us an angry divide. We still have sons and daughters in
harm’s way. The number of people who are homeless, sick, and hungry grows
Perhaps a look back at the
roots and the two sets of personalities that make up our Thanksgiving
tradition would be helpful at this point.
The pilgrims and the Native
Americans known as the Pakanokets who gathered together in the fall of 1621
make up the first set of personalities.
Nathaniel Philbrick has
written an excellent account of the pilgrim experience in his book
Mayflower. He tells the story of the first fall harvest, with the ready
availability of wild game (including turkeys) and the five freshly killed
deer that the Pakanokets brought to the event.
They did not have a long
table with a white tablecloth in the dining room; rather, theirs was a giant
outdoor picnic where the dinner guests outnumbered the continent guests by
about two to one.
The second personality to our
Thanksgiving tradition is Abraham Lincoln who issued the Thanksgiving Day
proclamation in 1863.
Both those in 1621 and in
1863 did not have much reason to give thanks back then. The little pilgrim
band did not have a family among them who had not suffered loss during that
first year. Less than half of those who landed on Plymouth Rock were still
alive. And Lincoln’s proclamation came during the Civil War. The nation was
a country of widows and grieving parents. The bloodiest war in its history
had destroyed families and fields.
Perhaps their acts of
thanksgiving were a reflection of the great Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith
— “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Thanksgiving this year may be
one of those times when we will be reminded that the things not visible to
the human eye are what bring us the greatest joy and peace.
This message is also posted
on the PC(USA) website >>
|A thanksgiving hymn
Carolyn Gillette was inspired
by Matthew 25:31-46, this year's lectionary text for this coming Christ the
King Sunday. Many churches have special offerings for the poor around
Thanksgiving that make this hymn very appropriate.
“Whatever You Do”
ST. DENIO 188.8.131.52 (“Immortal, Invisible,
God Only Wise”)
do to the least ones of these,
I tell you in
truth that you do unto me!”
you taught us! May we learn anew
That when we
serve others, we also serve you.
waiting children pray hunger will end,
long-forgotten cry out for a friend,
ones whisper, “O Lord, where are you?”--
We hear, in
their longing, that you’re calling, too.
In prisons and
jails, Lord, we find a surprise;
We see you in
people whom others despise.
bedsides we offer a prayer
And find, when
we visit the sick, you are there.
When we reach
to others in flood-stricken lands
And offer our
hearts there, and offer our hands—
Lord Jesus, the gift of your grace:
We see, in the
crowds of the suffering, your face.
did we see you?” Your teaching is clear
That when we
serve others, we’re serving you here.
And when your
church heeds you and helps those in pain,
Then out of
the chaos, hope rises again.
Music: Welsh Folk Hymn, Adapted in Caniadau y Cyssegr,
Text: Copyright © 2008 Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All
Hymn Note: Susan Sanders, One Great Hour of Sharing Administrator, asked for
this hymn to be written in honor of Susan Ryan’s service. Susan served as
the director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and also offered leadership
in ecumenical work for disaster victims and the poor.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!