11/22/20 – Count your blessings

Posted on : Nov 20th, 2020 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The Last Thanksgiving

Can you recall a time in your life when Thanksgiving was all about gathering in person, eating a ton of food, and kicking back after a smorgasbord of good eat’n (Ebonics) to play games, or watch football? Do you remember the dinner table? Can you recall when “blessing” the food took longer than usual because it was “Thanksgiving?”

The season of pandemic restrictions, isolation, quarantine, and uncertainty yields a Thanksgiving season unlike others. Instead of preparing large meals for family and friends, we are ordering take-out, having meals delivered and staying home.

Thanksgiving, a North American holiday, is set aside to give thanks at the conclusion of the harvest season. It is a time of giving thanks for abundance and for surviving in times of scarcity. In Napa and Sonoma, the wineries usually prepare for the Harvest Festivals, displaying their prized grapes, mustard seeds, figs, and olives. This year, the pandemic and the fires cancelled all festivals.

A bit of history here:

  • Thanksgiving has its roots in the coming together of the Puritans also knowns as the English Separatist Church and the Wampanoag Indians to whom they thought were heathens and whose lives and land they tried to control. Yep, it got ugly and fast!

Historians often debate if the Indians came to the harvest festival by invitation to share a meal or to negotiate land or maybe they mistook the celebrations as preparation for war. In any case the colonists and the Indians spent three days together celebrating the harvest. Of course, most of the food was supplied by the Indians because of their skills for hunting and working the land. A generation later, the children and grandchildren of the first settlers and Native peoples were killing each other. The Puritans were also joined by a group of townspeople on what is known as the first Thanksgiving Day in 1621. However, there is evidence that Thanksgiving was a religious observance long before 1621.

  • Our National Holiday of Thanksgiving is rooted in two festivals in the old testament: Feasts of Harvest (Exodus 23:16) also called the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22) since it was 7 weeks or 50 days after the Passover; and of the Feast of the Tabernacles also called the Feast of the Ingathering (Exodus 23:16, 34:22) which is at the end of the agricultural year.
  • Pentecost marked the end of the harvest season and comes in the Fall after the olives, grapes and other fruits were picked.

While we are safe in our homes, with hot water, electricity, heat, and all the comforts that we can afford, do not forget-over 50,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County. Homeless Encampments continue to settle on church properties, under bridges, in hillsides along the highways and on overpasses. What would you do if on Thanksgiving morning you awake to a homeless encampment on your front lawn or in front of your house and a homeless person is sleeping in the pathway to your front door?

It is ok if you do not have an answer or if you find yourself torn between calling the police to remove the trespasser or  confronting the uninvited guest. There are times when we must make difficult decisions when faced with how to protect ourselves, our families, and our property. There are no easy answers.

During this Thanksgiving Season, count your blessings and name them one by one. And be thankful that with each passing day that we witness the unjust and unfair housing practices that keep people homeless, you and I are given another opportunity to find solutions, to do something about it, to actively collaborate with nonprofit organizations to build affordable housing and provide temporary and transitional housing and mental health services for those living on the margins of society. Yes, we are blessed to be a blessing to others. You get to decide how!

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


WeHo UCC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: WeHo UCC’s Zoom Meeting
Time: Nov 22, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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