Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Rector's Messages

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Thanksgiving 2003

 

For Food in a world where many walk in hunger,

For Fellowship in a world where many walk alone,

For Faith in a world where many walk in fear,

We Give you Thanks, O Lord.

 

The prayer above is a grace before meals. I encountered this grace many years ago as part of The Primate’s World Development and Relief Fund annual campaign. The last line of the grace calls us to be thankful in Christ for all the blessings of this life. The first three lines of the grace call us to be thankful for food, fellowship, and faith. These things are blessings when they are present in life. When they are wanting they are unfulfilled needs. When absent from life these blessings are often replaced by their opposites --hunger, loneliness, and fear. This form of grace before meals is connected to The Primate’s Fund because it is a powerful prayer that joins faith to action. As we say it, may we be empowered to help transform need into blessings.

 

Words, of course, have the ability to inspire us to do great things. Great leaders speak in order to harness the hearts and minds of people in building up the common good. Their ability to speak, so as to motivate, is grounded in values such as courage, compassion and justice. Consider, for instance, these words from the prophet Amos: “ ..Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (NRSV). Amos lived over seven centuries before Christ. As a Hebrew prophet he spoke passionately for justice in a time of affluence, prosperity, and religious hypocrisy. The theme of his message, and that of the other prophets, is taken up in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Thousands of years later the same words would inspire the great Christian and social reformer Martin Luther King. The words from Amos were in King’s heart as he called for justice and equality. Those same words from Amos 5:24 now are inscribed on the monument which memorializes both Martin Luther King and his cause. They are powerful words of faith made all the more powerful by their embodiment in community.

 

Visionary words, whether in scripture or in prayer, can lead to some very concrete actions in our life--actions which can be characterized as just and righteous. At Thanksgiving we will hear scripture challenge us to be thankful: We will pray with thanksgiving in the midst of world full of need. Let’s remember that the words of prayer and the words of scripture can be matched to so many opportunities to share in justice and righteousness. Some examples are: the food bank, soup kitchen, Primate’s Fund, Anglican Appeal, refugee sponsorship, volunteerism. Streams of righteousness and rolling waters of justice may sound like a tall order; but its amazing how real they become when needs are transformed into even small blessings. This Thanksgiving as the blessings of our life are called to mind, so too should be a stirring within us for justice and righteousness. In this way, Harvest Thanksgiving will deepen our connection to both God and our neighbor.

 

The Rev. Rod Gillis Harvest Thanksgiving, 2003