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The Church Within
Thanksgiving Service of 2006

Offered by

Minister Judy Girard     [visit]

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11-23-2006 Thanksgiving Service of the Church Within
Weekly On-Line Services Since September 29
th 1996

Today's Service is offered by: Minister Judy Girard

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Welcome by: Pastor Daniel
Greetings my Beloved Sisters and Brothers, and welcome once again to the Church that is Within.

As has been our Church Within tradition since Thanksgiving Day 1999, Minister Judy Girard has provided our Thanksgiving Service for 2006. Judy was Ordained as a Minister of the Church Within on Thanksgiving Day in 1998, and has celebrated the anniversary of her ordination each year since by providing us with our Thanksgiving Service.

Thank you Judy! …and Oh! Happy Anniversary!!

The Sermon
Happy Thanks Giving!

I thought I would play with some words today.
You will remember this one -- GODISNOWHERE (GOD IS NOW HERE)

Today I have another -- "RESPONSIBILITY". 
         To most of us it may seem a rather nasty word,
          suggesting to us as it does the concept of either blame,
             credit, or duty.

If I should suggest to you a sentence that goes like this:
you could take all three meanings from it -
         she is a good cook
          she is a bad cook
             and, of course - no matter how she cooks,
                 "she has to cook".

But today I would like you to look at the word in a different
way,  a way which is at the root of all thanksgiving feasts, from the ancient feast of Tabernacles - or Sukkoth, to the modern feast we celebrate this weekend.

I would like you to see, instead of the single word
RESPONSIBILITY, two separate words - the words: "RESPONSE ABILITY"

I think you all know the American festival of Thanksgiving was first observed by the Pilgrims in 1621. It lasted three days and was celebrated with goose, turkey, and beer.

It happened, partially in response to the scripture that says -
         - "when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall
         celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days"

          and partly in response to the fact that the Pilgrims, poor
          as they were at the time, felt they were richly blessed by

They felt in short, that they had been given a response ability, and having that ability, strong believers that they were,  they exercised it, sharing their tables with each other, and offering thanks to God for bringing them to a new land, a land full of promise, and for watching over them every day.

So it was with the Pilgrims, and so it was the children of Israel, who on three separate times of the year - Passover, Shavuoth, and Sukkah - offered thanks to God, presenting before God and presenting to God various offerings from the year's crops, offerings that were used both in the worship of God in the temple and then, from the temple, disbursed to all the poor and needy of the land.

Our ancestors in faith - from Sarah to Mary, and from Abraham to Jesus, all were convinced that God is the source of everything, and that by graciously giving all things to us, God provides us with a response ability, a response ability that God hopes we will use for the good that he intends for us, and for the good that he intends for our
neighbours and our world.

God has given us a response ability:
         the ability to respond to Him
         and the ability to respond to others.

And this is true whether we are well off or whether we are experiencing times in which our physical resources are lean.

In the hard times you see, we still have so much,
         we have life, no matter how slenderly we may hold to it,
          we have family and friends, no matter how scattered,
             we have community, no matter how it is organized,
                 and we have the presence of God,
                    and the promise God has given to us,
         - the promise that when we seek first God's kingdom and God's
         righteousness, that all that we need will be added unto it.
Even in hard times, we, like the Israelites at the time of Joel, have a response ability, and if we choose, we, like they, can in fact, respond by offering God thanks, true thanks - a thanks giving from what God has given.

We have the ability to respond to God's love and grace,  and we can respond - by offering God the resources that he first gave us,
          - by offering God prayer, prayer that he first taught us
          - and by offering God and each other love --
          the love he first gave us
          a love that extends to all that God has made,
          a love that extends to all creatures,
          and to all people - even our own selves.

I think that when Jesus told us not to be anxious about tomorrow, about what we eat or drink or wear, it was to remind us that we are at all times blessed by the Spirit of God with many things, things both physical and spiritual.

Thanksgiving is a time we can choose to look at these things,
         a time we can choose to find God speaking to us through
          what he has given us,
             and a time when, having looked and found, we decide to
                 truly thank God for what he has given us,
                    and to truly trust God for what he will do.

That is what seeking the kingdom of God is all about,
and that is what is thanksgiving is all about:

             and thanking - thanking in word and in deed,
                 out of the response ability God has given us.

The Prayer
God has indeed given us all things:

  God, give me eyes that I might see
  the work that can be done by me.
  God, give me ears that I might hear
  the cry of those who need me near.
  God, give me lips that I might speak
  comfort and peace to all who seek.
  God, give me a mind that I might know
  how to help those who need you so.
  God, give me hands that I might do
  some large or simple task for you.
  God, give me a prayer that I might pray
  Thy help and guidance every day.
  And this one thing, all else above,
  God, give me a heart that I may LOVE!" 

       -- Pray Poem Source - "My Prayer" by Vincent Magro-Attard


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