Thanksgiving can be a complicated holiday. As I will explore in the sermon this Sunday, the myth of “The First Thanksgiving” is largely untrue and deeply racist towards indigenous people. In some circles, including my own family, Thanksgiving is not a celebration but a “Day of Mourning” for American Indian nations decimated by European colonizers. In fact, the day of Thanksgiving only became a national holiday during the Civil War as President Lincoln, looking for a way to both pay homage to the fallen and give thanks for the living, enshrined the day into our national calendar and character.
And yet, there is something quite special and sacred about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a secular holiday with a spiritual core: the moment in our busy lives when we give thanks for the abundance and gifts of our lives. I am fully aware that not everyone feels able to give thanks for the life they are living. Part of the potential of this holiday is that we also remember those who are in need of our gifts and our love.
We are a generous congregation. We give our time, talent and treasure to our mission to Inspire, Connect and Act. I witness dozens of brilliant moments of generosity each week; whether through pledge payments to our operating fund or through special collections for causes beyond our walls, or in the gifts of food, rides and companionship to those in need. While some may assume that everyone in our community is doing well, I can tell you that I offer hundreds of dollars in assistance each month through the Minister’s Discretionary Fund (MDF) to those among us in need. The MDF is funded completely by your donations. I am in awe of our capacity to give deeply and often. Thank you.
Like most congregations in America today, we are facing a new reality in our religious life as our elders depart and new generations are slower to join our congregation. There is no fault to assign to this reality. Our congregation, like thousands of others, is facing a new future in terms of what resources we have to dedicate to our mission.
This coming Sunday November 20th, we will have two very talented financial consultants with us from the UUA’s Stewardship for Us program, Barry Finkelstein and Rachel Maxwell. Some of you will remember Barry as the spouse of Rev. Roberta Finkelstein who served you so ably during your interim period after Rev. Frank Hall’s retirement and prior to my being called to serve you. I have known Rachel Maxwell since my days on the West Coast. She is an experienced financial consultant and dedicated UU who runs a community financial organization outside Seattle. You might enjoy watching her Ted Talk HERE.
Barry and Rachel are working with our leadership on devising a plan for our future to help us deal with the new reality we are facing; closing the gap between our financial resources and funding our dynamic ministries. Following the service we will have a congregational workshop on our dreams and our capacity to fund them. Their approach is for us to engage with one another and help us to find a way towards even greater growth. Please join us.
Yours Always, Rev. John