The second year we were in Budapest, we decided to have an American Thanksgiving celebration and invite our British friends. Searching for the ingredients for this traditional meal was challenging. I don’t remember that I found cranberries but perhaps I substituted lingonberries. There were no yams nor any pumpkin pie (I think I made apple!). What I do remember, though, is that at first I couldn’t find turkeys! Turkey is not unknown there but no one buys the whole bird. Finally, through a Hungarian connection, we found a farmer who raised turkeys and he was willing to sell us one. The day before Thanksgiving, this farmer appeared at my front door, holding the bird by the neck for me to have. I had never dealt with a turkey that I needed to decapitate! At least he had plucked it.
This memory comes to mind as we consider how we will celebrate Thanksgiving this year without families and friends around our table. We don’t need to worry about finding all the ingredients for the meal but what will it matter if there is not a gathering around our tables to eat it? This year Thanksgiving will not feel like Thanksgiving. Of course, the whole year has felt like a bad dream.
When we consider the origins of the holiday, we understand that out of a genuine wish to remember to give thanks for our blessings, it evolved into a story about our English ancestors celebrating harmoniously with the Wampanoags. In my kindergarten class and in my children’s kindergarten class, there were always black paper hats to signify the English and colorful construction paper feathers attached to a head band to represent the original people of this land. The reality of the actual day was not taught. And then, in the 1930’s, FDR changed the day we celebrated by a week so that the retailers could have a successful Christmas season. By the fourth Thursday of November, an actual harvest would have been long past.
And so, we have set aside a day of giving thanks that has a complicated and not always accurate representation of the original intent. It is good that we set aside a time for remembering to give thanks for all the blessings that this land has given us. We must never forget, though, the cost of those blessings to the indigenous peoples of this land. Like those Israelites who entered the Promised Land, there were already people living here. Without their help, none of the original group of Mayflower voyagers may have made it through the first year.
How do we give thanks for our blessings while remembering those whose land we confiscated? We white Europeans had an entirely different understanding of “owning” land than the native people had.
When we gather, alone or with the few who make up our little pod of family this year, let’s remember that we are here, able to recognize the day. There are over 250,000 of our fellow Americans who will not be seated with their families this year and their places at the table will never be filled again.
What I learned from my experience of Thanksgiving in an Eastern European country is that you can give thanks for wherever you are and however you can. Traditions are important and give us joy but when we can’t do things “the way we always have” we might gain a deeper appreciation for those times. God is in the midst of our day of giving thanks, no matter how we celebrate.
In 8th grade, my biology teacher had signs around his room of different quotes from many different people. The only one I remember is one from Ann Landers. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” How will you make your day of thanks truly represent your thanksgiving?
Advent approaches! I have had one family volunteer to light the candles in the Advent wreath. There are four Sundays in Advent!! Please let me know if you are willing to be a candle lighter from the comfort of your own home. I will send the liturgy to you, so all you need to do is read from that script and light the candle. We can adapt our tradition for this new and strange time. My email address is: email@example.com.
On behalf of the session, I have put together “Advent in a Bag” for our youth and children. In it are the needed ingredients to make a small, individual wreath, and other Advent goodies! These will be delivered by hand next week, so be prepared to receive a call letting you know either I or Sheryl Mason will be making a delivery to your family.
I give thanks for the blessings of this congregation. In my home visits this past summer and over meetings on Zoom, I have come to feel your welcome of me. Slowly, I’m getting to know your names. I think of Mordecai’s words to Esther, especially now, when he says to her, “Perhaps you were made for a time such as this.” Whether we like it or not, we are living in these times and it’s how we choose to live these days that will affect how we feel.
Peace and grace,
Christ the King Sunday Worship
11/22 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC. Youth grades 6-12 will meet for Sunday school at the start of the children's sermon—a Zoom link will be shared at that time in the chat and via email (contact Matt Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not get the email and want to be added).
By phone: call (646) 558-8656 and enter meeting ID 864 6572 5219
Click here to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns:
Receiving of offerings continues to be important to sustain our church community. While it is missing from our order of worship, we hope you will continue to give online or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906) as you are able. Thank you!
We invite you to stay online after worship for our virtual coffee hour.
Transcripts and audio recordings of recent sermons can be found on our website here. Audio recordings of older sermons are available here.
Deacons Meeting this Sunday We'll meet after worship/coffee hour.
Bible Study Tuesdays
Bible study meets each Tuesday evening from 5:30-7:00pm.
On November 24, Nancy Collins will be our guest speaker and share her final mission experience in Zambia. If you would like to join, send Pastor Deb an email at email@example.com so she can add you to the email list and send you a zoom link.
Youth Group Update
Thanks to everyone who joined us last Sunday for some Pictionary and activities related to perspectives. We have some talented artists and guessers in the group! On the subject of perspectives, we watched this short video about the vastly different perspectives of an American soldier and a Native American following the Battle of Little Bighorn and shared an inspiring bit from Pastor Deb's sermon last week about Kurt Vonnegut, a best-selling author whose perspective about himself changed when someone told him that being good at doing things isn't the point of doing them—it's the experience of doing them no matter how well we do them. We also tried to identify some zoomed in photos and talked about how we don't always know the whole story (or see the full picture) about other people. For those who weren't there, can you guess what this is a photo of? (Scroll to the bottom of this email to find out!)
Mark your calendars for our next activity on Sunday, December 6, at 4:30 pm. Details to follow.
Youth group activities take place on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. Contact Jo Fisher at 617-893-0865 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions.
PPC Book/Discussion Group Update
Our next meeting will take place Saturday, December 5 from 10:30am-12noon. Discussion will focus on seeking to better understand political divisions within the church, particularly among evangelicals, as we consider what it might mean to repair broken relationships and seek dialogue in the midst of disagreement.
By phone: call +1 646 876 9923 and enter meeting ID: 957 4046 7813
Contact Murray at email@example.com if you have questions or suggestions, or would like to be added to the group email list.
Reminder: We Want to Hear from You
We are still collecting stories and feedback from as many people in our congregation as possible to gain a better understanding of what draws us to this church community. What about your life in this church has been meaningful to you? If there are areas of concern for you, include those also. We are trying to envision a future for this congregation that is satisfying and helps us grow spiritually. Your contribution will help Session as they consider our next steps. Send your feedback to Pastor Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please help us update our church directory by emailing your contact info (name, street address, email, phone/text numbers) to Monica VanderBaan at email@example.com or to Pastor Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org. It just takes a minute and it is so helpful for keeping us connected!
Continuing Opportunities & Needs
Please contact the leaders listed below if you are interested in getting involved in any of these ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service:
Volunteer to be a Worship Leader: call Jill Moles 401-241-9812 or click the button to sign up here:
If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if possible, or otherwise contact deacon Matt Harrison at email@example.com or 401-340-9444 and he will coordinate care.
If you have a prayer request or would like to be included in the prayer chain, call/text Suzanne Affigne at (401) 523-4907 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton has put together some helpful tips for using Zoom – read them here and here.
Our presbytery's website (psne.org) and our denomination’s website (pcusa.org) are great resources for information about our faith, connecting with the larger faith community, and opportunities for action.