Area religious leaders pause to offer thanks

LOGAN – Thanksgiving for many is a time to gather with family, have a turkey dinner, offer thanks and binge on football games.

History has the first Thanksgiving in October of 1621 celebrated when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the spoils of the fall harvest. The feast lasted three days.

President George Washington on Nov. 26, 1789, proclaimed it as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”

Cache Valley Daily reached out to religious organizations across the valley to give their thoughts on Thanksgiving during a world-wide pandemic. Here are some of their responses:

Father Rogelio Felix the administrator of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish:

“Happy Thanksgiving, family! There are many things to be grateful for: for life, for the opportunity to enjoy a new dawn and especially because in the midst of this pandemic we realize how valuable life is. I think this date is perfect to talk to you.

“I want to thank my brothers in Cache Valley because throughout all these months they have worked to give us everything we need. We have worked together for the same cause in the midst of this pandemic, for the family, for our brothers and sisters most in need.

“To my brothers, I would like to say that this year I had an incredible time with them. Hopefully this Christmas will be an opportunity for all of us to connect as a family and enjoy our company.

United in prayers, receive my blessing and that of my brother Fr. Joshua.”

Jerri Harmon the secretary for the Logan Church of Christ:

“We are humbled to be able to worship in Cache Valley and love the people here. We pray that everyone will have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving.”

Emerson James from the  Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists:

“For me, the heart of Thanksgiving is twofold: gathering together and the recognition of abundance, all we have to be grateful for.

“In the last couple of years, gratitude and gratitude practices have become buzzwords. In fact, a Google Scholar search of studies published on gratitude in the last five years yields some 235,000 results. These studies communicate a range of findings about the benefits of gratitude including: improved mental health, greater happiness and wellbeing, increased self-esteem, improved physical health, enhanced empathy and a reduction of aggression, better sleep, and helping us to make friends.

“I tend to resist trends on principle, but I’ll admit that I’ve been swept up by the gratitude fad and have a daily gratitude practice myself. What I do is simple; each morning I write three things I’m grateful for in my notebook. On the whole, doing this everyday has inclined me to feel a greater sense of blessing and security, to recognize a broader range of friendships and support.

“In a year like 2020, however, where there has been so much collective and individual hardship, I can also say that there have been many days where the loss seems to outweigh the gifts. On these days, being asked to articulate what I am grateful for feels a little bit like what Parker Palmer, a Quaker spiritual leader, has written about telling someone experiencing depression that the world is beautiful. In his book, Let Your Life Speak, he explained that, ‘In depression you know intellectually that it’s a beautiful day outside, but you can’t feel an atom of that in your own body, and that’s depressive in itself.’ Essentially, you know you should feel the blessings, but you can’t, and that makes you feel as though there is something wrong with you only adding to your despair.

“I cannot make myself feel grateful for the pandemic, the lives it has taken and the ways it has reduced my community; for the chronic migraine I have navigated this year; for the hurt caused by the political divide in this country. I am sure that there are things in your own life that you can’t make yourself feel grateful for either. I don’t think we should have to and there’s nothing wrong with us for not being able to. So, with all of these hardships present, what does one write down each morning? What can we be grateful for this season?

“There is one phrase from an On Being interview with the Benedictine monk David Steindel-Rast that has anchored me this year. I’d like to offer it, ‘We don’t have to be grateful for everything, but we can be grateful in every moment.’ We can look for the small things, what we usually take for granted.

“I write down that I woke up, that the heat came on, that there are people that matter enough to me to miss, that to feel grief means that I have a life that is precious and rich enough to have something to lose.”

Rev. Joshua Heimbuck of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church:

“Give Thanks with a grateful heart.

“Thanksgiving greetings to you all! November is upon us in this year of uncertainty and upheaval. The celebration of Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We may be asking ourselves what is there to be thankful for? A virus is raging across the world, rioting and protesting, natural disasters, political uncertainty.  We can’t be with those who are most vulnerable. Less family and friends to celebrate with-on the bright side, that could mean more leftovers! It can be challenging for us all to come up with things that we are thankful for. Then, I am reminded of the song: ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart.’

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son.
And now let the weak say “I am strong,”
Let the poor say “I am rich,”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
And now let the weak say “I am strong,”
Let the poor say “I am rich,”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks, give thanks.

Text: © 1978 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110005302

“When I sing these words, I am reminded of all that Christ has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection. All that I have comes from God’s gracious hand. I am encouraged and strengthened, knowing that Christ will be with us no matter what happens in this uncertain world. St. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ I know that it may be hard to rejoice always, but God will get us through. Pray without ceasing. God is listening and will provide all that we need. All because of Jesus. May the Lord be with you all.

Eldon Peterson from the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship:

“As we gather to give Thanks to God at Thanksgiving some will ask, ‘What do I really have to be thankful for in 2020?’ We are still in the midst of the Covid pandemic, racial tensions while not boiling over are certainly still present, the economy is anything but thriving, and though the votes may be counted, there is still no peace.

“Being thankful implies that things are going well does it not? No, for if our ‘thankfulness’ is tied to things going our way then it is not genuine thankfulness. Thankfulness cannot be tied to circumstances. Why not? Because such thankfulness is shallow and empty. We need a thankfulness that transcends circumstances not those tied to them.

“The Lord offers us hope that is greater than the comforts of this world that enables me to be thankful in any and every circumstance. That’s what Paul told the Philippians, in Philippians 4:11b-13 ‘I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.’

“When I am content, thankfulness naturally follows. If I struggle to be thankful, it’s likely to be partly rooted in my discontentment with the things of this life. As I know and believe that the Lord is always faithful, then I will know contentment and be thankful regardless of my circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ‘Always be joyful.  Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.’

Richard P. West, Director, Bear River Communication Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

”Gathering and Thanksgiving are two sides of the same coin. Where one goes, the other does, too. Thanksgiving is a group activity marked by sharing and reflection, and expressions of appreciation and gratitude. The holiday tradition that now bears the name ‘Thanksgiving’ began as a harvest feast in 1621 when 150 native people and Englishmen put aside their cultural differences and self-interests while they ate, played games, and negotiated agreements that assured peaceful commerce and associations. The gathering overcame division and difference, and the resulting collaborations brought lasting benefits to all.

“During this holiday season marred by a pandemic that is increasing in strength and scope, let us allow Thanksgiving to live in our thoughts and actions even as we find new ways to gather and express gratitude. Rather than hiding from this awful disaster, let us follow the counsel of our medical experts, and serve one another responsibly, keeping in mind how our behavior affects the well-being of others. The Apostle Paul taught, ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).’  He further counseled to ‘…do good, … be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate’ (1 Timothy 6:18).

“While our Thanksgiving celebrations this year will be untraditional, we can be thankful for both the good and the bad in our current circumstance. As theologian and author C.S. Lewis encouraged: ‘We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good’, because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

“In 1527, Martin Luther faced the deadly bubonic plague that killed an estimated 50 million people in Europe and Asia.  He offered advice that rings true even today: ‘You ought to think this way: ‘Very well, by God’s decree, the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore, I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely.’

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.