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The Church Within
Thanksgiving Service of 2010

Offered by

Minister Judy Girard     [visit]

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2010 Thanksgiving Service of the Church Within 11-25-2010
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.

In the U.S. we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day today. It is a national holiday initiated by Abraham Lincoln… the day we celebrate it was determined by Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is an official day of giving thanks for many people and a large portion of them use it to give thanks to our Creator, hence an excellent day for our Church Within tradition of offering a Thanksgiving Day Service to you. A Key part of our tradition is that each year the Service is provided by our beloved Minister Judy Girard who was Ordained as a Minister of The Church Within on Thanksgiving day 1998. Happy Anniversary Judy!

(Source Unknown)

There is an old story or fable told about a far-off land which was ruled by a tyrant.

The tyrant had an ironclad grip over all parts of his kingdom, except for one frustrating area. He was unable to destroy the people's belief in God.

He summoned his counselors and put the question to them: “Where can I hide God so that the people will end up forgetting God?”

One counselor suggested that God be hidden on the dark side of the moon. This proposal was debated for some time, but voted down because it was believed that one day scientists would discover a means of space travel and God would end being found again.

Another advisor to the tyrant came up with idea of burying God beneath the depths of the ocean floor. This was voted down for basically the same reason - it was felt that scientific advancement would lead to the discovery of God even beneath the depths of the ocean floor.

Finally the oldest and wisest of the counselors had a flash of insight. “I know”, he said, “why don't we hide God where no one will ever think of finding God?” He explained, “If we hide God in the ordinary events of people's everyday lives they'll never find God.”

And so it was done - and they say that people are still looking for God - even today.

The Sermon
It hardly seems possible that it is Thanksgiving already. For me, Thanksgiving is a time of transformation and wonder—and time to pause and give thanks more deeply and with more intention than usual. Unfortunately, it is also a time to “shift gears” and move into the Christmas Season. I don't know how things work where you live, but the pre-Christmas season gets earlier and earlier each year. And Thanksgiving, already officially relegated to one day a year, is getting lost in the shadow.

But there is a feeling in the air—an atmosphere that seems to encourage us to pause and to identify just how blessed we are, just how much we are subjects of God's grace.

And that's good - because it leads us into the transforming wonder of thanksgiving. Not the holiday of Thanksgiving, but the very act of thanks giving. To acknowledge that we have been blessed. We have been blessed to be a blessing.

A few years ago Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of Nebraska conducted a group of studies called the “Family Strengths Research Project.” Stinnett and his researchers identified six qualities that make for strong families. The first quality and one of the most important to be found in strong families was the quality of appreciation. Families that are strong are strong in part, Dr. Stinnett concludes, because family members express to each other their appreciation for what the other members DO and for who they ARE.
In a similar study another researcher looked into the effect of praise in the workplace.
His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in the workplace needs to be four to one before employees feel that there is a balance - that there must be four times as much praise as there is criticism before they feel good about their work and about the environment they work in.

That is pretty staggering information - information that tells us that if we want to do something good, that if we want to have a healthy family, a strong workplace, or any other effective group that we need to be sure that appreciation, praise, and thanksgiving
are heard at least four times as often as is criticism.

Praise and thanksgiving are important - and not just to our families and our workplaces, but in the end important to us as individuals before God. It is very easy to get discouraged - to get down in life. We might be living in chronic pain, or suffering from a decline in the standard of living - out on strike or laid off, or we may simply not feel appreciated or valued by others ; any of a hundred things could be assailing us and making us feel miserable - even making us question God. That is normal enough - but it is important that we go beyond the questions and back to our faith - and it is here - in the difficult times - that thanksgiving is of crucial importance to us as individuals.

One of the most beautiful people I ever met was a 92 year old lady who was a paraplegic. She was confined to a Nursing home in Colorado Springs - and there she lived all her days between her bed and her wheel chair. She had diabetes and several other problems - and over the previous five years she had first one foot, then the other, then a leg, and then another, amputated so that she might be able to go on living. She had considerable pain, most days she was very uncomfortable - and there was for her no family to come in and visit - she had simply outlived most of them.

What this lady did during her days was quite wonderful - when she was able - she wheeled her chair up and down the corridors of the place and popped in and visited all the other folks who lived and worked there. She learned their birthdays and sent them cards, she checked when they seemed depressed and listened to them talk of it and gave their hand a squeeze and prayed with them if they were willing. She went to the recreation room and took part in the games - often helping the staff help others. She was a light in a dark place - full of joy and peace despite her own troubles and woes. I always prayed with her on my visits - I would pray for her and she would pray for those around her and she would always give thanks to God at the end of each prayer for God's goodness and love - for how God helped her each day - even in the days of pain.

This woman's beauty; her ability to help others, her faith and love and compassion
was rooted in her thanksgiving, thanksgiving that was made even when it might seem crazy to other people to make it.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist I believe that one of the problems with our society is that we work mainly on our feelings - on whether or not we “feel” like doing something. When we've lost a feeling for something we discard it. For example, we believe that “if I feel love for you I will act in a loving way.” My premise is the opposite - it is this - if I act in a loving way, my love feeling will grow. And so I recommend to my clients various “caring exercises” to do each day - one of which is of course - the expression of appreciation and gratitude -of thanksgiving.

God asks us for our thanksgiving - whether we feel like making it or not -so that we might experience the blessings it brings -blessings it brings to us, and blessings it brings to others.

Look around you - find that which is good and thank God for it - find that which is caring and thank God and the person who is doing it - look around - look inside - look outside - and think on that which is noble and true and beautiful and express your praise for
it - express it no matter what the bad or the ugly may be up to. God is hid in the ordinary routine events of our life – our practice of thank-giving will bring God to our sight and in so doing bring to others and ourselves a better world.

The Prayer
We are blessed to be a blessing. Thanks be to God for all of our blessing. May we bless the Lord and one another.

Praise God from Whom ALL Blessings flow,

Judy Girard
The Church Within

The Creator's Infinite Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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