Thanksgiving means so many things to so many people. For some, it may be cause for joyous celebrations around favorite foods at family tables. For others, especially LGBTQ persons, it may be a reminder of difficult relationships and estrangements from family. For Native Americans, it may be a painful reminder of oppression and displacement inflicted at the hands of European colonizers. Thanksgiving, like everything else in life, is complicated.
Brother David Stendl-Rast, a Benedictine Monk, tells us in his Ted Talk, viewed more than 6 million times, that gratitude does not mean being grateful for everything we experience. But, rather, finding gratitude for the opportunities that present themselves even in the difficult situations we face. Folk singer and writer Carrie Newcomer speaks about her practice of naming three things she is grateful for at the end of each day, “It’s a small practice and humble,/And yet, I find I sleep better/Holding what lightens and softens my life/Ever so briefly at the end of the day.”
The past year has been a mixed bag of experiences for the Tri-Conference Ministries staff, who are adjusting to new ways of being as we live into better ways to serve the churches of the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota conferences of the United Church of Christ. I’m sure your year of serving in your churches and ministries have also brought both soaring joys and overwhelming grief.
Amidst all of this, we are grateful for you and your ministries throughout our conferences: your tireless efforts to creatively serve in your communities, this country and a world in which darkness sometimes feels like it might overcome us. Still, you point to God’s hope, peace and love shining through the ministry you do each and every day. For that we are deeply grateful.
Throughout this holiday weekend on social media, we are going to be sharing practices and inspirations about gratitude. If you haven’t liked one or all of our pages, please do so now.
Join in the conversation with your sister churches, telling us just what you are grateful for.
Rev. Brigit Stevens
Executive Conference Minister