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Archive for Saturday, November 22, 2008

Faith Forum: How should people of faith look at Thanksgiving?

November 22, 2008

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Holiday steeped in tradition

David Berkowitz, vice president and ritual committee chair, Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive:

Thanksgiving is unique among American national holidays in that it has, from the beginning, a strong religious component. Yes, there is more to Thanksgiving than eating turkey and watching football. From the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving, celebrated in the fall of 1621, to Lincoln’s declaration Oct. 3, 1863, of an annual national day of Thanksgiving to be held on the last Thursday of November, the purpose of the celebration was to give thanks to God for the blessings bestowed upon us and our country. Today this element of Thanksgiving seems to have lessened in comparison to the feast and other entertainment. Many religious congregations do not have a special service on Thanksgiving, but some still do. For people of faith, we should be sure to bring within our Thanksgiving celebrations some religious content. In my family’s home we recite a special one page service for Thanksgiving Day from the Reform Jewish Home Prayer Book prior to our meal. There are many other prayers and blessings that can be used by all the denominations and religions in this country. It is important that we add at least a special prayer thanking God for the many blessings bestowed upon our country, to give us strength to continue to strive to live up to our ideals and to enable the United States to be a source of peace and freedom in the world as part of our Thanksgiving celebration.

May we all have a happy Thanksgiving and may God truly bless America.

— Send e-mail to David Berkowitz at bwlaw@sunflower.com

Pilgrims showed their gratitude

Ron Channell, pastor, Family Church of Lawrence, 5150 Clinton Parkway:

Thanksgiving is a uniquely celebrated holiday. It envelopes the historic, social and religious mores of our earliest Pilgrims. It provides us an annual time of remembrance and gratitude as we reflect on why the Pilgrims first came to America.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast, which marks one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. They collectively celebrated the harvest and “gave thanks” for a successful bounty of crops.

Just as the Pilgrims remembered, God reminds us not forget our blessings. He says, “Remember the former things of old…” (Isaiah 46:9). The ultimate blessing we have is God himself. The Psalmist prompts us to “give thanks at the remembrance of his holy name” (Psalm 30:4). He is our sovereign God who is in control of all things. He showers his children with blessing upon blessing, of which we should be eternally thankful. “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should also remember the historic and defining commitment of those Pilgrims on board the Mayflower. They made their purpose very clear.

Here is an excerpt from the Mayflower Compact: “In the name of God, amen. We, whose names are underwritten … Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith … a voyage to plant the first colony…”

Why did they come? For the glory of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith! Let us not throw our Christian nation into the wind. Let us be thankful for our blessings and remember where they came from. Happy Thanksgiving!

— Send e-mail to Ron Channell at ronchannell@gmail.com

Comments

BrianR 6 years, 1 month ago

“In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast, which marks one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. They collectively celebrated the harvest and “gave thanks” for a successful bounty of crops.”-- Ron Channell, pastor, Family Church of Lawrence So many inaccuracies, so little time. I see the Thanksgiving myths are still alive and well in Lawrence. By 1621, the diseases brought by the “settlers” had already wiped out most of the native population. The Pilgrims gave thanks because God “cleared the land for them.” God bless the germs that killed these people so that we might feel less guilt as we steal their land.The heretical idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation keeps popping up too. We are less a “Christian nation” than we are a nation made up of people who happen to be a majority Christian. If the U.S. is ever declared a Christian nation, I hope someone has the presence of mind to dissolve the Union first because America will be dead.

tmcc 6 years, 1 month ago

"The heretical idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation keeps popping up too. We are less a “Christian nation” than we are a nation made up of people who happen to be a majority Christian. If the U.S. is ever declared a Christian nation, I hope someone has the presence of mind to dissolve the Union first because America will be dead."One large inconsistency, plenty of time.The best way to support a plurality of beliefs in our community is to hold respect for everyone. This is a discussion of faith - a warning for those easily offended by individualism. I think it is a great thing to attempt to find meaning in our often empty traditions. At the very least, this holiday offers us the chance to reflect upon the things we have that we don't deserve. It seems natural that people of any faith could find meaning despite the obvious blemishes of the past.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 1 month ago

C'mon BrianR, give it a rest. Your history is a huge conundrum of ridiculous rhetoric! We ALL know why the Pilgrims came and settled in this New World. Yes, they were Christian Pilgrims...and as tmcc pointed out, there are obvious blemishes in our past. Shouldn't we focus on living in the community of the U.S. as it is today? Main reason being because we're no longer living in the 1600's...nor in the 1800's when Lincoln declared an annual day of Thanksgiving. Just think of what this country has come through...do you not think for a moment that Lincoln didn't realize what we would be facing as a nation?? To come together and thank God for blessings we certainly do not deserve is an humble act of admitting we've done a lot of wrong things, but we've also tried to make a lot of those things right. There will always be more to do...more to "get right"...but BrainR, this nation was declared a Christian nation long before you or I were ever born. And what's wrong with that? If someone of another religion doesn't care for America, he or she is welcome to leave at any time and go back to their own homeland. This is a free country. Get it yet???

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 1 month ago

C'mon BrianR, give it a rest. Your history is a huge conundrum of ridiculous rhetoric! We ALL know why the Pilgrims came and settled in this New World. Yes, they were Christian Pilgrims...and as tmcc pointed out, there are obvious blemishes in our past. Shouldn't we focus on living in the community of the U.S. as it is today? Main reason being because we're no longer living in the 1600's...nor in the 1800's when Lincoln declared an annual day of Thanksgiving. Just think of what this country has come through...do you not think for a moment that Lincoln didn't realize what we would be facing as a nation?? To come together and thank God for blessings we certainly do not deserve is a humble act of admitting we've done a lot of wrong things, but we've also tried to make a lot of those things right. There will always be more to do...more to "get right"...but BrainR, this nation was declared a Christian nation long before you or I were ever born. And what's wrong with that? If someone of another religion doesn't care for America, he or she is welcome to leave at any time and go back to their own homeland. This is a free country. Get it yet???

BrianR 6 years, 1 month ago

Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower, only 35 or so were Pilgrims. Do either of you actually know anything or are you repeating what you learned in 5th grade?

tmcc 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't remember having any particular feeling about your summarized history lesson. I do, however, continue to hold concerns about your seemingly vengeful motivations for trying to destroy reflection about this topic before it began. I know that we all are thankful, even for you, BrianR, for helping us discover our feelings about this holiday through reading your posts.

storm 6 years, 1 month ago

Although thanksgiving is actually a celebration of the first terrorists who happened to be Christian, we can all be grateful for what we have.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 1 month ago

"...The time has comeTo say fair's fairTo pay the rentTo pay our shareThe time has come A fact's a factIt belongs to themLet's give it backHow can we dance when our earth is turning?How do we sleep while our beds are burning?"( burning the Midnight Oil )

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