Giving thanks together

Good things happen when people of different faiths worship together in the same room at the same time. Some of my happiest memories take me back to ecumenical worship services that drew the community together to express their thanks for their blessings, both shared and personal. As soon as they were old enough, our daughters and I joyfully arrived early at these services to join a pickup choir for a quick rehearsal, then enjoy an hour of prayer, music and messages delivered by clerics representing various faiths in our community.

The congregation of one church in Miami Shores, Florida, for years had a tradition of dressing in costumes as America’s early settlers and native Americans. The event filled the church’s sanctuary every year and attracted coverage by local television stations. Most community gatherings on Thanksgiving looked more like a normal worship service, except for the diversity of the speakers and those in attendance.

But these healthy community gatherings  are disappearing. The one in our town stopped several years ago.

Most of us celebrate Thanksgiving Day and the weekend that follows with food, the  gathering of family and  friends, watching football, and shopping. Especially shopping. Well and good for folks who can surround themselves with those pleasures, but much bleaker for those who are alone or unable to afford them.

Even the lonely and poor could worship together with others in their community, even if only on this one special day each year. They — and we — could sing together, pray together, listen to unfamiliar speakers representing unfamiliar faiths, they could look around and see neighbors they haven’t met, and together they and we could express our thanks for our blessings.

We should restore this important  community activity. I can’t think of a more appropriate time for this to happen.

Today’s word: flack or flak? The word flak originated in Germany, condensed from Fl ieger a bwehr k anone, which literally “pilot warding-off cannon.” Commonly understood to mean anti-aircraft fire, especially as experienced by the crews of combat airplanes at which the fire is directed. Today, we use the word to mean criticism or a hostile reaction. Flack with a “c” means to provide publicity.


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