Column: Giving Thanks is an Ancient Greenwich Tradition


On Faith

Giving Thanks is an Ancient Greenwich Tradition

By James B. Lemler

Thanksgiving… it runs long and deep for us in so many ways. Yes, it is the holiday that occurs this coming week. It is that and so much more. Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart and spirit, and indeed a way and walk of life itself.

Thanksgiving also runs long and deep for our country and local community. We know that our forebears celebrated the gifts of the harvest from the beginning of the Colonial period of our nation and that first nations indigenous peoples observed an annual harvest festival on these shores long before that. We will be continuing this tradition in our own local community in houses of worship throughout this coming week. Especially, we recall the long and deep roots of harvest festival and thanksgiving prayer as Greenwich celebrates the 375th anniversary of our founding as a town. We know that the earliest towns and communities of the Connecticut colony valued Thanksgiving and harvest times of prayer from the very beginning, and this was the case in Greenwich as well.

In the spirit of the town’s 375th anniversary, the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy is sponsoring its annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The service will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Greenwich, 59 East Putnam Ave. (www.fumcgreenwich.com) and will include lay people, clergy, and singers from many different houses of worship. It marks the ending of the 375th anniversary year and also the continuing offering of thanks in the life of this community and our own personal lives. You are invited!

There will be other occasions of Thanksgiving worship throughout the week, and you can find information about them on the various websites of congregations in town. All are important, and all continue the tradition of prayer. Truly, thanksgiving runs long and deep for us in this community. It also runs long and deep in the human heart and soul. The awareness of the generosity and gifts of God is at the foundation of our living in so many ways.

Gratitude itself is both an appropriate response to our Creator and a healing part of our lives. Time after time, consideration after consideration, study after study, we discover that an attitude of gratitude is actually healing and helpful for all of us. It lifts our spirits and keeps us from being dragged down into dissatisfaction and anxiety. It helps us to see the people around us and the ongoing life we live as gifts from God, representing God’s love and generosity. It moves us from feeling that we have to make everything happen and control things around us to a place of inner peace and awareness.

Indeed, I hope we join in Thanksgiving as citizens and members of this community. I hope we will participate in the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service or some other public gathering of giving thanks. But… most of all… I hope that each one of us will spend a moment in our own minds and spirits recalling the generosity of God and the good gifts all around us that come from our Creator. It will lift heart and spirit. It will join us to our Creator and to other human beings. It will be an action of wholeness and hope. May you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

The Rev. Dr. James B. Lemler is the rector of Christ Church in Greenwich.

 

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