From the Pastor’s Desk, 11/15/21

grat·i·tude

/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/

noun

  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

“she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support”

   Ten days from now we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation in 1863 declaring the final Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. For 36 years prior, Sarah Josepha Hale, a prolific writer and noted magazine author, as well as author of the nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb…”, had published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to government officials campaigning for a national holiday of Thanksgiving. Hale earned the nickname “Mother of Thanksgiving.”

   The celebration of Thanksgiving also stems from the great feast that early European settlers and Native Americans shared together in November of 1621. The feast lasted three days in celebration of the harvest that was brought in. However, no record of the menu exists. Most likely the bounteous meal did not feature pies, cakes, and other delectable desserts common to our present-day Thanksgiving feasts.

   An annual celebration of harvest spans cultures and millennia. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans paid tribute to their gods and feasted together after the fall harvest. The Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot is another early forerunner of our Thanksgiving celebration as is the Native American tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans settled on the shores of the new world.

   Gratitude has a rich history indicating how important it is. Jesus offered a story, found in Luke 17:11-19, supporting the importance of gratitude. Ten lepers received healing and only one of them returned to share gratitude. The one who returned received the gift of these words, “…your faith has made you well.”

   A modern-day study provided results indicating that gratitude is beneficial for mental health. The study brought together 300 adults, mostly college students, who were facing mental health concerns. Study participants were randomly assigned into three groups. One group was instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks. Another group was invited to write about their deepest negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The third group did not have a writing activity. Those who wrote letters of gratitude, even if they didn’t send them, experienced significantly better mental health four weeks and twelve weeks after the writing assignment ended.

   Digging deeper into the results of the study, researchers found, although not definitively, these additional benefits.

1.     Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. (Sharing gratitude increases the use of positive emotion words and decreases those that are negative. The benefit arises from the decreased use of negative emotion words.)

2.     Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it. (An attitude of gratitude is beneficial.)

3.     Gratitude’s benefits take time. (Give gratitude time to work. Results are not immediate.)

4.     Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain. (fMRI scans revealed that “when people felt more grateful, their brain activity was distinct from brain activity related to guilt and the desire to help a cause.”)

   What can we gain from the above thoughts.

A.    Gratitude has been a human response throughout human history. When practiced in a communal manner, it draws people together with a common purpose providing for a healthy relational atmosphere.

B.    Practicing gratitude is proven to bring healing. A great place to start in sustaining or increasing our health is engaging in the practice of thanksgiving.

C.    Thanksgiving is much broader and bigger than one day out of the year. To diminish it to an annual event can nullify its greater benefits. However, an annual reminder to always be full of gratitude is certainly worthwhile and valuable.

   Could it be that to resolve many of the maladies we face as humans, we could simply engage in more acts and experiences of gratitude and thanksgiving? Nothing would be lost and perhaps much would be gained.  

WORSHIP THROUGH DECEMBER 19

   All worship services beginning November 21 and continuing through December 19 will be held in-person in the church sanctuary, masks required. For those with internet access and who may be unable to attend in-person, the services will be broadcast in real-time using both Zoom and Facebook Live. The Facebook Live option allows viewers to view the service without the capability of interacting. The Zoom option will provide viewing and interactive capabilities.

   Using Zoom is a new option for in-person services. It has been tested and seems to work well. However, because it is a new platform used in this setting, some unanticipated glitches may occur. Efforts will be ongoing to minimize these problems to provide for a satisfactory worship experience.

   Since Zoom is interactive and all who are connected are participating “live,” here are a few tips for maintaining a good experience for everyone.

1.     Please “mute” your microphone when not speaking or engaging in the experience. Doing so cuts down on background sounds. To mute, simply click on the microphone icon usually found at the lower left-hand corner of the Zoom screen. When muted, a red line will run diagonally through the icon. To unmute, click the icon which removes the red line. The box of your picture will also indicate if you are or are not muted.

2.     To see as many participants as possible during the Zoom session, use the “gallery” view option. In the upper right-hand corner of the Zoom screen, click on view, then click “gallery”.

3.     When “screen sharing” occurs, the number of picture frames you are able to see will be reduced. Placing the cursor at the bottom of the frames shown will make visible a small arrow. Clicking on the arrow will bring into view a new set of frames. To go back, move cursor to top of frames and click on the arrow.

4.     You may also stop your video which will keep your frame in place but keep your picture from being projected in it. To stop video, find the icon that looks like a camera near the bottom left-hand corner of the Zoom screen and click on it. To resume video, click on the icon again. This feature if used if you need to step away from the session for a brief moment, or you’re having a bad hair day, or the cat keeps parading back and forth across your camera’s line of vision, or whatever other funny thing might occur.

5.     If using a phone to connect to the Zoom session, you will not have video capability but certainly audio options. To mute your phone, press *6 on the phone’s keypad. To unmute, press *6 again.

6.     The person hosting the Zoom session has the capability to mute participants but cannot unmute. The host can send a message asking the participant to unmute but only the participant can unmute. If the host mutes your microphone, you will be responsible for unmuting if you wish to interact audibly.

7.     A “chat” option is available during a Zoom session. If you wish to send a message using chat, click on the “chat” icon at the bottom of the Zoom screen. You then have the option of chatting with a particular participant or with everyone.

8.     If during a Zoom session you encounter technical issues, we will try to have tech assistance available that can be reached by texting. This piece is still being worked on and information will be published and provided when it is determined who should be contacted.

Sunday, November 14 recap

   Worship held Nov. 14 via Zoom focused on the story in Numbers 27:1-11 about daughters, not only sons, receiving inheritances. Throughout the worship experience, time was provided to consider ways in which we, in modern times, encounter situations that call for new approaches to bring forth just and right results. Diving into such matters can take a lot of courage, especially when anticipate results are quite different than the common understanding and include marginalized populations. A video shared as part of the service made known that any of us, as one person, when we can involved, can make a significant impact in furthering the work of justice.

   Following are links to videos shared during the service:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE38EpqCtUk

The Rosa Parks Song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Koeio4fqwmU

Vivienne, Taking a Stand with Lemonade – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t30NU6hhx4Y&t=92s

Bruno Mars: Don’t Give Up – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWp6kkz-pnQ

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21 WORSHIP

   Thursday, November 25, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. So the theme for worship this coming Sunday, Nov. 21, is thanksgiving with a specific focus on way in which we are able to maintain gratitude in the midst of difficult moments, especially the chaotic times brought about by an unwelcome pandemic. Martha Harr, Joe Brewer, Brenda Carper, and Harold Rose have been invited to share a brief story about experiences whereby they have remained grateful. A variety of scriptures related to thanksgiving/gratitude will be shared, as well, including the story in Luke 17:11-19.   

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s