Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Faith Works 11-21

Faith Works 11-21-09

Jeff Gill


Or On the Other Hand, Maybe Not



If I were to hazard a guess that there were some readers of the Advocate today who weren't feeling too terribly thankful, it wouldn't be going out on too shaky a limb.


Given the state of the national, regional, and local economy, the odds that there are some people turning pages (actual or virtual) who are looking more for the Help Wanted pages than sprightly opinion & comment are pretty good, almost a certainty.


The parson's usual dodge, said the parson, is to suggest that everyone, no matter if they've lost their job, even if they're short cash or feeling the sting of already-burned-through credit coming due, should still feel thankful for something . . . or other.


You still have your health, even if no health insurance, says the optimist; you have the breath of life itself, says the faithful believer, which is a gift; the pragmatist points out that you aren't in jail. (Except for all our faithful jail readers – hey there, folks, hang in there!)


Thankfulness is technically something you can feel no matter what your circumstances, unless you're a corpse or at least catatonic. Medical science declares that feelings of thankfulness lowers blood pressure, supports your immune system, and promotes general well being.


Does that include forced or insincere thankfulness? Or is it one of those categories of thought and action where if you believe something, you'll start to live so much as if it's true that it will effectively become true. You can't think yourself tall, but thinking self-confidently can start to straighten your spine enough to actually add both height and the impression of height.


There's anecdotal evidence enough that if you decide to speak and act and claim to be thankful, thankfulness for yet another day, for a few basics, and for the promise of maybe something more at some possible point later, you really do end up feeling thankful right down to your ungrateful appendix.


"Give thanks, with a grateful heart" says the well-known praise song, and it's a piece of wise counsel, but what about just giving thanks, and asking for a grateful heart to warm up inside you as a result? Sometimes, you just don't feel thankful for anything, including, not just starting with, the fact of having woken up that morning. You may even be particularly displeased about that. You know you shouldn't, but it's been that kind of week, OK? (You think, grumpily.)


Which may be so, but can you concede that there is a reason, any reason at all in your life, to offer thanks: to God, to your higher power, to something or Someone beyond your own abilities and actions?


And then could you be open to feel it, to feel the effects of that decision to present a thankful attitude in the general direction of the cosmos? It would be a start.


Most areas around the county have a community Thanksgiving service, usually on Sunday night, since so many travel on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Granville & Hebron churches band together for a 7:00 pm service, while Utica, always a step ahead, has one at 6:30 pm Sunday night, and there are no doubt others.


If you're feeling particularly un-thankful this year, my heart and sympathies are with you. There are some real challenges out there, and I wouldn't want to even hint that they are anything other than demoralizing for anyone feeling alone and pushed aside.


What I'd also like to offer is to come join one of the community Thanksgiving worship services, since there's probably one very near you, and since they include multiple congregations, it's a great time to drop in and not feel like the only stranger in the building.


And for that hour of music and singing and prayer, take a shot at being thankful, even if only for very little. It might just grow.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him what you're thankful for at, or follow Knapsack

Monday, November 16, 2009

Knapsack 11-19

Notes From My Knapsack 11-19-09

Jeff Gill


Give Thanks With Heart and Hands and Voices



Sunday evening at St. Luke's Episcopal Church the entire community is invited to start a week of Thanksgiving with a Community Thanksgiving Service at 7:00 pm, planned by the Granville Ministerium.


The Rev. Thom Lamb of First Presbyterian will preach, and The Rev. Stephen Applegate of the host church has arranged a number of us clergy folk from many different denominations in a worship service that can help raise up and focus our reasons to be thankful, as a village, as families, and as individuals.


Our offering at the service will go to the Coalition of Care's ongoing work, and a community chorus will sing for us.


That chorus is another expression of an impulse that's visible over on Newark's East Main Street, just past the big blue steel bridge, opposite the Licking County Justice Center. Right now, the "Church Build" Habitat for Humanity house is wrapped in blue material around the first floor framing, but sheathing will go on shortly, and then a crane will help lift the roof trusses into place.


Centenary UMC is celebrating a bicentennial year in 2010, and one of the ways they wanted to mark the occasion, along with the usual plates and such, was a gift to the community. A few members took the lead in the idea of pulling together county Christian churches, and got around twenty participants to commit to the idea, but Granville churches are strongly represented in both contributions and construction crew. The last day I was on the site, there were workers from Centenary, St. Luke's, Spring Hills, and St. Edwards.


The work will continue on Saturdays and Wednesdays through the holiday season; also coming right up – Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6:00 pm, is the Newark "Sights and Sounds of Christmas" guided tour of downtown churches. $5 per person, all for the Licking County Food Pantry, is a wonderful experience to see and hear some real county history, and great live music. Check out for more info.


Of course the first Saturday of December is . . . time to leave town? Yes, I know there's a few Scrooges who feel that way, but this is the 20th anniversary of the Lovely Wife and I first stumbling into downtown Granville as evening settled around the Four Corners, the Scouts lighting the luminaries, music echoing out of the churches, and a light snow fell all around. We were captivated and entranced and whatever else the thesaurus says about that, and if you'd told us that night we'd be living in this village fifteen years later we would have laughed and laughed.


If you'd have told us in 1989 we'd have a son in twenty years who would be lighting those luminaries, we might have cried, just a bit, with happy tears. And laughed.


Both of which we'll no doubt do on Dec. 5 at the Candlelight Walking Tour. See you there!


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story about your favorite anniversaries or events at, or follow Knapsack