Last night, I joined with the clergy and members of local synagogues, churches, temples, and a mosque to celebrate Thanksgiving. I have been meeting with the Plainview-Old Bethpage Interfaith Clergy Council for about a year. In that time, the Christian churches have shared Lenten and Holy Week offerings; the Rabbis and Cantors joined the Christian clergy to celebrate my installation as Rector at St. Margaret’s; and all of us have served side-by-side as we make sandwiches for our local soup kitchen. But this worship service was the first time I have experienced a joint worship service in a language that would appeal to all of us.
I must admit, I was a little uncertain of whether the service would work. Although our faith traditions share many core tenets, we as clergy are constantly learning about each other’s faiths and discovering significant cultural differences. As we processed into the Lutheran church, and as I touched the baptismal water with a rabbi at my side, I was not sure whether we could make the service truly meaningful for all those gathered.
What I found, though, was that in worship, our similarities and our differences made our worship whole. Our prayers and scripture readings centered my heart in thanksgiving. Our coming together to praise God for our many blessings made me remember what this National holiday is actually about – at least for those of us who are persons of faith. Thanksgiving for us is a day set aside to praise God from whom all blessings flow. Thanksgiving is a day when, no matter what our faith, our prayers are focused on the adoration and praise of God. Whether it was a cantor’s song, a mufti’s prayer, or a reformed pastor’s blessing, our worship last night was just the centering worship I needed in what has been a chaotic month.
Thank you, interfaith community of Plainview-Old Bethpage. Thank you for turning my heart to deep thanksgiving, praise, and adoration of the God who sustains me.
A prayer from my tradition:
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
-Book of Common Prayer, 836.