Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Faith Works 11-10

Faith Works 11-10-12

Jeff Gill


Thanksgiving, together



A week from tomorrow night, Nov. 18, in a number of locations around Licking County, church groups will be gathering together for a community Thanksgiving worship service.


These services are always ecumenical in nature, which means they don't do anything that might make it difficult for others to participate, so there's not communion served or creeds said or other things that might be more particular to one faith tradition or another.


In the Lakewood area, the churches around Hebron & Buckeye Lake will be meeting at First Community Church on Walnut Rd. at 7:00 pm.


The Granville Ministerium is having their service at First Presbyterian Church, on the four corners of the village, also at 7:00 pm.


And at 7:00 pm (there's a trend shaping up here), in Newark, the ministerial association is hosting a community Thanksgiving service at Trinity Episcopal Church, just east of Courthouse Square.


(If anyone knows anything about Utica or Pataskala area community Thanskgiving worship, let me know and I'll note it here next week!)


Usually, the service includes some scripture readings on the theme of giving thanks, hymns are sung "Come, Ye Thankful People Come" and "We Gather Together" (Thanksgiving has less music than Christmas, but what it has is really good), and the choirs get together beforehand and prepare an anthem they sing as one.


Then you have an offering, for groups like the Salvation Army, Habitat, the Food Pantry Network, or sometimes a special effort like a shoe recycling drive for third world water supplies. Finally, there's a sermon, and that frequently falls to the new guy or gal in the neighborhood.


Yep, I'm preaching for the Newark service!


The fun part of this for me is that I'm in the (I believe) unique position of having preached all three of the aforementioned annual services. And I've done the Newark Thanksgiving message before, when I was associate pastor at Newark Central, but that was a century ago. Well, in the last century, anyhow.


Where I grew up, the ecumenical Thanksgiving service was a strong downtown tradition, but it was Wednesday night, and unlike many other gatherings in church life, there were usually more men than women. My mom occasionally came to sing with the joint choir, but more often she stayed home, as did many other mothers, doing last minute work on their preparations for Thursday. (They've since moved to the Sunday before, too.)


So my dad and I would go, to the Lutheran or the Methodist or the Presbyterian church building, with everything so familiar and yet so strange inside. And we would go down in the afternoon, before evening fell, in the years when it was at our Disciples of Christ congregation. The heavy old tables with finger-pinching legs, well-battered folding chairs, and rolling coat racks all had to be put in place downstairs, and then up in the sanctuary a little extra vacuuming, cobweb dusting, and neatening of the brochure racks, since company was coming.


I have years of Thanskgiving service sermons rattling around in my head, and they rustle together in an agreeable blur like commencement speeches, each with some unique qualities that stand out just a bit, but generally echoing one another in a reasonable commonality. Give thanks, with a grateful heart, for it could be worse; you could miss some good things wanting too much better, so be thankful for what you have; God has promised blessings enough for today, and more in the fullness of time, for which we could be, should be, must be . . . thankful.


And I think we are, mostly. We live in an era where it seems the whole of the marketplace conspires to make us discontented, to want what we don't have, always, and to consume without satisfaction: yet I hear most of us marveling at our good fortune compared to [insert your preferred comparison here], and ruefully commenting on what we'd like to have or do or be, while tending to end with "but I'm thankful, I really am."


Where we go with that thankfulness, and make a blessing to ourselves and others out of it, is what I think we're going to talk about a week from Sunday night. They tell me I have eight minutes! If you come, I'll be thankful you're there.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor; tell him what you're thankful for at knapsack77@gmail.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

Knapsack 11-15

Notes from my Knapsack – Granville Sentinel 11-15-12

Jeff Gill


Looking beyond this election, or any



I'm writing this before Election Day is over, without knowing the results of anything from coroners to constitutional conventions.


By the time it runs in the paper, we may still not know how all of these candidates and ballot issues have shaken out. Some votes will be decisive, and others may offer a more ambiguous message. Some decisions by "we, the people" may not necessarily mean what a quick glance over the polling results might indicate.


On the much-debated community pool issue, I strongly suspect, for a wide variety of reasons, that it will fail. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.


Here's what I'd really like to say to everyone who worked so hard, with the very best of intentions and hopes for our village: thank you. What I think this vote does is begin a conversation, not closing a chapter. We've lost Spring Valley, and we're seeing competitive swimming grow, and there's clearly a need for a pool, ideally another year-round pool, that the public can use.


It's hard not to drive back and forth out Pearl St. to the intermediate, middle, and high school buildings, and not look longingly at the vast new building housing a natatorium for Denison University. Are there ways to add capacity and create partnerships to get the community inside that building without interfering with Denison's core mission to their students? I don't know.


Driving on past, as a non-swimmer myself, I think that what we really need, and are now discussing, is a community push for fitness in general, physical activity in particular, and space for a variety of healthy activities. Rolling in and out of the parking lots of the schools on Burg and New Burg Streets, I wonder: is there a community center plan that can bring together the Granville Schools and the Recreation District to each others' mutual benefit? And would a year-round community center, on land (let's say) between Burg & Loudon be a first step, designed where an outdoor pool could be added when the time & economics are right? I truly don't know, but I'm delighted that we're all talking about health & fitness & everyday sorts of exercise.


And then there's the presidential election. I believe it very likely that we won't have a definite Ohio winner, hence no confirmed candidate nationally, by the time you read this. I hope I'm wrong! Regardless, here's what I ask of the winner: please go talk to the other party, and don't let the first rebuff be the end of your attempts. My sincere personal concern is that we've spent much of the last twelve years dog-paddling in the river, as the current is carrying us towards a waterfall. As the roaring gets louder, the left arm and the right arm are blaming each other for not swimming more strongly for shore.


Right and left, you need two arms to swim. They have to work together, if only because when you go over the cataract, you'll both hit bottom about the same time. Even with upper income and even middle income tax increases (which I'm sure are coming whomever wins), we can't continue spending at this rate, and it's time to focus on getting to solid ground, which will take co-ordinated effort to achieve.


Come to think of it, I learned how to do that in a pool.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor; tell him what you learned from your swimming lessons at knapsack77@gmail.com, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.