Thanksgiving Community Worship

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  November 22, 2014

            One of the most important themes that runs through the pages of scripture is that of giving thanks. It is part of our worship, part of a vital and active faith, part of a well-balanced and meaningful life, and part of our Christian engagement with our loving and merciful Creator God. We are called to approach God with thanksgiving!
            This theme of thankfulness and gratitude was part of what drove the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony to invite several Native Americans to a celebratory feast in November of 1621. Over the years, the custom of designating a time of national thanksgiving changed but it remained an important ritual for many in the 13 colonies, and later United States.
            Following the American victory in the Revolutionary War, George Washington issued an official Thanksgiving Proclamation as a call to celebration and gratitude that the fledgling nation had successfully triumphed in our bid for independence and freedom. In subsequent years, many states and municipalities enjoyed a variety of localized observances of Thanksgiving, many centering on prayer, gratitude, feasting, and even some fasting.
            Then in 1683, during the devastating Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln officially declared the final Thursday in November as a day of National Thanksgiving. In his proclamation, it was more than just a time to give thanks, but also a time to pray for those whose lives were disrupted by the war, who had lost loved ones to the war, and healing for a nation bitterly divided in the ravages of war.
            Today, the National Holiday that is Thanksgiving has many different meanings for people. For some it is a time of family and feasting. For some it is an occasion to jump-start Christmas shopping. For others it is a time to enjoy great football, take a well-deserved nap, or simply reconnect with family.
            Although it has very prominent religious themes and solidly rooted in our Biblical mandate to give thanks, the holiday often divides us in very distinctive ways and the priority of thankfulness can easily be lost amid the trappings and traditions of the season. It is time to bring some healing, unity, and Biblical thankfulness back into the season.
            Several local churches are gathering for a community-wide Thanksgiving Service of Worship Tomorrow at 5:00 PM. The host church is St. Peter Lutheran Church, located at 1302 W. Pierce. The Rev. Dr. Steve Voris of First Presbyterian will be giving the message, along with clergy representing several congregations and ministries throughout this city. Additionally, a special Thanksgiving offering will be collected and given to the United Way of Carlsbad and South Eddy County.
            Thanksgiving is about more than just being thankful. It is about gathering as a community united in God’s love and living in gratitude for the many blessings God has poured out upon our great nation. It is a holiday that transcends the many diverse religious traditions, political affiliations, and economic distinctions that we enjoy in this country. It is distinctive holiday where we can all pause and pray, praise and give thanks, and know that in spite of our diversity, we may all seek God’s healing and continued blessing.
            This Thanksgiving, in addition to our own family and individual observances, the community of Carlsbad can come together in thankful praise, joyful worship, and meaningful fellowship. It is, after all, one of the greatest ways we can honor our God!