A few years ago, a local church in another conference declared November to be the liturgical “Season of Giving Thanks.” They created special paraments for the sanctuary and a stole for the pastor of orange and brown; decorated the sanctuary; and designed worship themes with this special focus from All Saints Day (November 1) until Advent. This special season resulted in a lot of creativity and energy!
As I think of the month of November, this makes sense to me. We begin with All Saints Day when we express thanks for those who have been important to us individually and to our churches (of course, if you are from our UCC German Evangelical tradition, this is often done with a similar celebration of Totenfest, the last Sunday of the liturgical year on Nov. 24). This is the time when we are reminded that we have been shaped and blessed by those who came before us. We are thankful!
For many churches, November is Stewardship Month – also a time for giving thanks! It is a time to recognize and celebrate the impact of our local church in our lives and the wider community while looking ahead with plans for the coming year. Too often we associate stewardship with money: making financial pledges and/or creating budgets. Yet even as we consider our anticipated giving, is that not a testament to our thankfulness for our community of faith? The sharing of our financial resources is an indication of our gratefulness and the joy of being part of what is often an imperfect community of disciples. As we give thanks for what has been, there is also a spirit of gratitude and hopefulness for the possibilities God will place before us in the coming year.
In the midst of the challenges that we face, in the midst of the worries and concerns that we have for our country and countries around the world, scripture reminds us to always give thanks. We give thanks to an all-loving God who sees beyond our limited sight and provides us with hope and reassurance of God’s constant love.
Blessings, Char Burch