Recently I’ve observed many Anchorage churches put significant effort into collecting food for distribution to those in need. Last Sunday many churches also emphasized Thanksgiving with sermons and church feasts. However, few churches appear to be conducting Thanksgiving Eve or Thanksgiving Day services except for two I located.
Consulting Google, I found only one church offering a Thanksgiving Eve service on the first two search results pages. Trinity Presbyterian is holding their service at 7 p.m. tonight. Pastor Tom Letts shared “A homily will be given by one of our congregants. The service will be followed by a pie social where we bring two pies, one we share, and one we give to homeless organizations. Over half of our congregation comes. It’s their service and family friendly. The families then take the pies to Beans or the Rescue Mission. This is also our night for our hanging our greens in preparation for Advent.”
Similarly, Google results showed only one church conducting Thanksgiving Day services. St. Mary’s Episcopal starts the day with a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. followed by a worship service at 10 a.m. Rector Michael Burke says “The St. Mary’s community gathers in the morning for breakfast and worship afterwards in recognition that the day is a national day of Thanksgiving. We do this to give God, from whom all things flow, the credit for our received blessings. A lay person will be delivering the homily.”
There may be other churches offering services tonight and tomorrow, but I couldn’t find them on Google. The internet is our new communications medium. If your church is unsuccessful in getting it’s offerings onto page one or two of a Google search, you’re missing the boat. Comment to this blog if I’ve missed you.
America Used to Do Thanksgiving Differently
In the early days of this country, Thanksgiving occasions in the colonies were marked by fasting and prayer. George Washington was the first of our presidents who declared Thanksgiving as a holiday to God.
The following quote is from The Huffington Post article on Thanksgiving last year.
‘The American tradition of celebrating a day of thanksgiving began early in the first term of President George Washington when, at the request of Congress, he issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation on October 14, 1789. Washington eloquently declared that Thanksgiving Day was dedicated to “the service of the great and Glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be”:’
“NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; — for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; — and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”
Source: Huffingtonpost: Dr. Peter Breggin Article
Thanksgiving was not founded as a day of self-indulgence. On this Thanksgiving, 2010, I wish my fellow church people in Anchorage to consider the real reason for Thanksgiving and resolve there is more to life than football games, overindulgence, Black Friday and shop ‘til you drop.