Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Notes From My Knapsack 11-20-05
Jeff Gill

Thankfulness: Why Not?

This week, starting Sunday night, quite a few communities do co-operative worship services to mark Thanksgiving week. One thing I’m thankful for is the strong spirit of collaborative effort that marks church and society in Licking County.
Having lived a few other places, I can say with certainty that this is not the case everywhere. For churches of such diversity 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; 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; share your turkey leftover ideas at . . . wait, no, that’s Trish. Anyhow, tell me a tale at disciple@voyager.net.

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Notes From My Knapsack 11-27-05
Jeff Gill

Walking Off Those Turkey Calories

Eat too much? Uh-huh. Even Hollywood starlets probably ate to excess last week ("Sure, I’ll have a fifth green bean; oh, what the heck, another slice of glazed carrot, too"), and we Midwesterners have an entire culture to live up to.
Personally, while there are many great recipes involving real cranberries to be had, I haven’t had Thanksgiving dinner until I’ve sliced something jellied with the can lines still embossed on the maroon surface. Just me, I guess; thanks Nory! I have a great mother-in-law.
Whatever you ate, and regretted, you need exercise. Of all the general statements I could make, there’s one of the safest to our region. If you live where you are reading this, you could probably do with a bit more mobility in your life. Even those getting geared up for the opening of Deer Bang-Bang Season Monday dawn (and our prayers are with you all, be safe) could do with some limbering up and stretching before heading out on a five mile over hill and dale ramble.
So here’s my prescription, if not recipe: Licking County has some great holiday walking tours coming up this week. Do ‘em all!
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 before dark 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.
Neatly dovetailing into 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 jolly old elf of the Northlands 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.
You could do all three and still have time to dig out your blaze orange for Monday; that might be good advice for all of us…the blaze orange for Monday, I mean.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; let me know how your first day out hunting went at disciple@voyager.net.

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