Chapter 150 [day 252]: Wednesday 25 November
Good morning to y’aall…
I’ve slipped into a transatlantic American greeting (a la Kenny Dubnick) as tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day across the USA - a national holiday celebrated by millions of Americans on the last Thursday of November. Originally observed by the Pilgrim Fathers from 1620 as a Christian Harvest thanksgiving, it was later declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and has been celebrated ever since. Obviously, this year’s celebrations will be very different from usual although I imagine there will still be millions of traditional turkey and pumpkin pie dinners being consumed.
Other countries also have a national thanksgiving day, including Brazil which also celebrates their Thanksgiving tomorrow, but other countries have different dates to USA. When Karen and I were travelling across Canada for our honeymoon in 2007, we had arrived in Toronto to stay just 2 days but only on the evening we arrived did we discover the following day was Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday and everywhere would be closed! Moreover, the typical temperature on Thanksgiving Day would be 11-14 degrees but on that day, it was forecast to reach 30oC. Fortunately, the CN Tower was open to visitors and we were able to enjoy the air-conditioned revolving restaurant 350 metres above the ground in the afternoon.
Whilst in the UK we do not have a national (bank) holiday designated for thanksgiving, churches have celebrated harvest for centuries although this year, we like many others were not able to do that. Many nations and religions have special days for thanksgiving, some dating back millennia such as the Jewish festival Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated during October and lasting over 7 days.
It should be a natural human reaction to give thanks- rather like our emotions breathing. We receive or are blessed (breathing in) and then we want to give thanks (breathing out). Although most thanksgiving celebrations can be traced to religious origins, that fundamental human need to thank has spread beyond religious ritual or ceremony.
Back in April of this year, the nation was encouraged to give thanks to NHS workers by standing in the street and clapping. Just earlier this month we remembered and gave thanks for those who gave their lives for their country, and still today continue to defend us. Whilst many people choose to complain in these days, we should count our many blessings and give thanks.
Today it is so important for us to maintain an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness and the Bible is filled with exhortations to give thanks -
Psalm 100:4-5 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
One of the classic hymns we would undoubtedly have sung had we had a Harvest service this year contains the chorus –
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all His love.
Hymnalong song for Thanksgiving >>> GIVE THANKS WITH A GRATEFUL HEART
· Don’t forget the BCM Toylink appeal which was highlighted in our previous email. Each November we normally hold a ‘Toylink Service’ at which we donate NEW toys to Birmingham City Mission to be presented to needy children for Christmas. Here’s more information about BCM’s Toylink project including what toys are suitable >>> https://www.birminghamcitymission.org.uk/christmas-toylink/ There are also alternative options of either ordering a toy online and have it delivered direct to BCM, or you could make a cash donation to the Toylink project via https://www.give.net/toylink We will provisionally designate Sunday 6 December as our Toy Service Day for you to bring your gifts - subject of course to us being able to resume services by that day. If you are unable to attend on that day for any reason, let us know and we will organise to collect the toy from you.
· We are planning to collect and distribute your Chapel Christmas cards as normal. If we are able to resume Chapel services by Sunday 6 December, the usual Christmas post box will be available for you to deposit your cards. We will then organise to safely and hygienically sort the cards for distribution the following Sunday. This will be repeated the following Sunday, and for those Chapel members who are still shielding and unable to come to the Chapel, we will deliver cards to you as well as collecting any cards you wish to send.
We’ll be in touch again on Sunday for another ‘virtual’ service, and hopefully we should be able to meet at the Chapel once again from 6 December.