Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Thoughts

1. Cranberry relish. The cranberry relish is made and I discovered the correct marking on the package. My cranberries were grown just a few miles from me after all. All we do to make it is to grind up a package of raw cranberries with an orange and add some sugar for taste. You will never find a can shaped cranberry blob on my table. Normally, my children make it and they squabble about who is adding the most cranberries. They have made the cranberry relish from the time they could walk but this year Lucas is in France with his girlfriend and Kaley arrives on Thanksgiving day just in time for dinner. Unfortunately, my relish is a little more pureed than it should be because of the food processor. When I was a child, before electricity was discovered, I would help my Mom make it with a hand grinder that we latched onto the table. The consistency was chunkier and I think it tasted better.

2. Lucas. Last year we had the delight of introducing an American Thanksgiving to Lucas' French friends. This year, Lucas requested that I send him my recipes for the basics. He and Magali are going to try to pull off Thanksgiving dinner in Lyon. They have two big obstacles. Everything will need to be changed to metric and they will have trouble finding the ingredients. They do not have cranberries, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or even turkeys without special order.

3. My walk. It is a gorgeous day. I was angry when I got home because my shoe was all squished with dog poop. Why oh why don't people clean up after their dogs?? I would never consider leaving an Apolo pile behind. Canine fecal coliform is the number one growing pollutant in Puget Sound a few feet away. Apolo poops huge piles and we have been having "three bags full" walks lately after Dave switched to Costco dog food. With leaves all over the ground, dog piles blend in so somewhere within a three mile radius of my house, I really smashed a pile.

4. Thoughts. I still had thoughts running through my head on my walk. Maybe it is good that I did not discover my poopy shoe until I smeared it on my wood floor or my thoughts would have been interrupted. On Monday afternoons, I try to make it to my church for our weekly Ministry Meeting. Anyone can come. About five of us meet with our priest, Peter and now our new assisting priest, Cynthia. Basically, we shoot the breeze. We discuss who we are and what we should be doing as followers of Christ. We laugh. We cry. We try to get this religious thing right which is difficult when it is really all one big exciting mystery.

5. Advent. We are trying to figure out how to present Advent to the congregation this year. God loved us so much that he sent his Son to us to be born in a smelly old barn. Joseph probably had poop squished on his sandals. But then---he probably did not notice. All of us in the room yesterday shared our deep concerns. Our Episcopal Diocese is trying to attack extreme poverty and disease in Africa. We have some excellent programs that are working and reaching people but it is not enough. My little thing at the moment is to try to do something about global climate change with my local Thanksgiving but it is not enough. Another person in the room is in charge of supplying Thanksgiving baskets, Christmas gifts and food, and Easter baskets to 11 needy families but it is not enough. She shared that in all of the 20 years she has been doing this, the families are more desperate than ever before. More families are using our food pantry than ever before. We don't have enough. One group of folks from our congregation just returned from New Orleans. Another group is leaving next week but it is not enough. The consequences of Katrina are still unimaginable.

6. Epiphany. And then we kind of had an epiphany. We have been trying to grow our church by advertising and asking people to join us for their own personal spiritual journeys. But isn't this appealing to every one's selfishness? "Come and worship with us. You will be welcomed. You will have fun. You will feel good. Joy with Jesus!" Nope, it hasn't worked. In the mean time, our government is doing squat about poverty, disease, global warming, and disaster relief while it spends trillions of dollars on war. Nada! Nothing. But churches---oh my gosh---churches are facing these issues and doing things about them and actually having success and making a difference.

7. We can do it. So, perhaps people will be attracted to churches when they realize they can actually participate in tackling the major problems in the world and in our communities. One can be plugged into an entire array of programs by stepping through our doors. For example, on Sunday I learned how I could save the lives of children in an entire family in Africa by donating one mosquito net. This inexpensive item donated through a Seattle scientific organization in partnership with our Episcopal Diocese will help prevent malaria. Yesterday, one of us questioned whether or not talking about cyclones, earthquakes and brain-eating amoebas in the weeks before Christmas was too depressing. The answer is that having each of us involved in taking action to solve problems is the greatest gift we can give to the Christ child during Advent. And when we all gather together and participate in large numbers, it may be enough. It just might be enough.

We call this hope. Yes, that's it. Advent is a time of great hope.