Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hey y'all --
Double/double for Thanksgiving week so hard working editors can get dinner with their families next Thursday; below is this week (19 Nov.) and next week's Faith Works on down for 26 Nov., and below that is the 20 Nov. Knapsack with 27 Nov. at the very end. New posts in December!


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Faith Works 11-19-05
Jeff Gill

Together We’re Thankful

This week, starting tomorrow night, most of Licking County has somewhere nearby a co-operative worship service, planned by a group of pastors and churches to mark Thanksgiving week.
One of the things I’m most thankful for is the strong spirit of collaborative effort that marks church and society in Licking County.
I’ve lived enough other places to say with certainty that this ain’t always so. For churches of different denominations and traditions to worship together, the common sense of identity has to be stronger than the narrow differences between them. Important differences in some ways, but not so much as to prevent shared thankfulness.
Sunday night, Nov. 20 is the Lakewood Area Ministerial Association’s Community Thanksgiving Service, at Lakewood High School’s auditorium at 7:00 pm. Drawing on Jacksontown, Hebron, Buckeye Lake, and on down towards Thornville, musicians, readers, youth, and pastors will offer up a time to reflect on how fortunate we are and help others in need.
Tuesday night, Nov. 22, the Granville Ministerium offers up their ecumenical worship at 7:00 pm in First Baptist Church of Granville; I hear that a group called "Revved Up" will have some special music that night.
The Newark Area Ministerial Association ushers in Thanksgiving Eve with a 7:00 pm service on Wednesday, Nov. 23. They invite worshipers from all around the area to gather at First Baptist Church of Newark just off the OSU-N campus at 1000 Granville Road, and suggest a food item or canned good for the Food Pantry Network, while a cash offering will be taken for the Newark Area Campus Ministry.
It wouldn’t surprise me if a few other shared services were taking place this next week. Your church bulletin may have word of programs I’ve missed.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years having organized and led a few of these is that there are always a number of folks who attend a Community Thanksgiving Service who don’t attend any other worship programs most of the rest of the year. There’s a quality of non-partisanship that goes beyond even your typical ecumenical endeavor when the fourth Thursday of November comes around.
It may be the roots in civic society from Washington’s first declaration of a "Day of Thanksgiving" to the more direct ancestor of our autumnal festival with Lincoln’s proclamation during the Civil War. It could be the contrary nature of those Separatists who came across an ocean to worship and live as they chose (historical footnote: Puritans were a later development, so Baptists have as good or better claim on the day than do Congregationalists). Even if they didn’t actually have big buckles on their hats or carry wide muzzled blunderbusses, they were brave, determined, and really, really stubborn.
Or we may have a wider base for this communal observance because whatever your flavor of faith, everyone knows that "it could be worse." Even when we feel profoundly sorry for ourselves, we know that others need our help, the help that only we are in a position to give.
But I’d like to think it has something to do with the fact that we are made to be thankful, somewhere deeper than our DNA, to acknowledge that each day is a gift and we can be blessing to others. Whatever your belief about the source of our ethical urges, we all feel a calling to caring on some level, and that starts with our own thankfulness for . . . whatever. You know what’s working for you, and how it isn’t all because you make it happen all on your own.
So come on out sometime this week, slip into a back row if you must (there’s more room to be inconspicuous down front, actually), and join your fellow citizens in saying "Thank you," and in giving others a reason to say so themselves.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; what are you thankful for? It’s not too late to tell me a tale at

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Faith Works 11-26-05
Jeff Gill

A Pilgrimage On a Modest Scale

Prayer and fasting were likely not spiritual disciplines in use last week; grace at tables by nervous heads of households, perhaps, but saying "no" to temptations of the flesh and the deadly sin of gluttony not so much.
Whatever you ate, and regretted, you need exercise. Pilgrimage is another of those ancient practices of the devout which is in fashion again – at least to sit on the sofa and read about. Travelers to Santiago and Lourdes and Tibet have come home to share stories of rocky paths leading to a unique destination, if not full enlightenment.
If you aren’t ready for long treks on mountain trails or on your knees across the desert, how about just getting some exercise on Licking County sidewalks?
On some walking tours coming up this week, you can not only work off a bit of the holiday excess you consumed, but you will see the insides of a number of churches and ways of worship for yourself, with friendly guides at hand.
First, this Thursday (Dec. 1) starting at 6:00 pm, Newark offers "Sights & Sounds of Christmas - A Guided Musical Walking Tour of Newark's Downtown Churches."
There are tickets, which are $5.00, with children under 12 free. All proceeds benefit the Licking County Food Pantry, which will also have their seasonal post up at the Gazebo on Courthouse Square. You can get tickets at all branches of Park National Bank, or at the Greater Licking County Convention & Visitors Bureau on Second St., or at all participating churches. Those are:
Second Presbyterian Church - Chancel Handbell Choir & Organ
Trinity AME Church - Adult Choir
Trinity Episcopal Church - Flute, Violin, & Organ
First Presbyterian Church - Piano & Organ Selections
Plymouth Church - Hiltner Brothers
St. Paul's Lutheran Church - Jubilate Ringers Handbell Choir
First United Methodist Church - The Sanctuary Choir
St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church - The Adult Mixed Choir

This tour begins at Second Presbyterian Church, but organizers ask that you park at St. Francis De Sales Church just west of downtown on Granville St. Free shuttle bus service is available from St. Francis parking lot to the Second Presbyterian Church.
Then we have Saturday, Dec. 3. The first Saturday in December has long been the Granville Candlelight Walking Tour, and it has grown in recent years to become both longer and wider, now with programs beginning well into the afternoon and closing with a concert up at Swasey Chapel on the Denison campus.
Not only the "four corner churches" but all the downtown museums, Pilgrim Lutheran a few blocks down Broadway, and the college president’s house, Monomoy Place are part of the festivities. The bulk of events are between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm, but look for one of the posters to see the detailed schedule of who’s performing where when.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is the oldest continuously used worship space in this region (since the 1830’s), and well worth your time just to see this Greek Revival gem. It attracts visitors from all across America, along with near-contemporary the Avery Downer House on east past the library. All the churches are open for free, all with music to share through the afternoon and evening, but consider dropping a voluntary offering where you can. Historic buildings can be the very dickens to maintain. . .
Neatly wrapping up all this is Saturday night at Infirmary Mound Park with Licking Park District’s "Christmas In the County" from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The noted saint and bishop of Myra, Nicholas the Kind (aka jolly ol’ St. Nick) is scheduled to make an appearance along with a number of other musical offerings. Indoor activities abound, but also a chance to walk around Mirror Lake and work out those last helpings of mashed potato while the kids talk to Santa in the Bradley Building by Rt. 37.
And out there under the stars, offer up a small prayer to really get the season started off right.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; suggest a pilgrimage along local lanes at

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