Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Liturgy at the Upper Room, Albany, NY

On Sunday, November 20, Debra Trees and Deven Horne led the Upper Room Community in a liturgy of Thanksgiving. Their homily starter is below as well as two of the readings used during the liturgy.

Homily Starter, Thanksgiving, 2016.
Deven Horne and Deb Trees

Have you ever put the words, thank, thanksgiving, thank you, and gratitude into a word search through the Bible? We figured we would try, and see how the sense of gratitude and thanksgiving is used and we were not surprised to find that Gratitude is salted throughout the works and words of the Bible like a wonderful recipe, flavoring it from start to finish.

The real key is to see exactly HOW it is used; In what context?  There are very few references like saying thanks to God that we are not like those other ones, obvious sinners all. Saying thanks for the extra bounty we receive. Giving thanks and praise for God’s glory.  Giving thanks for all gifts, small and large.  Giving thanks for a listening God, one who is present.  Praising God and giving thanks when one is in need, and just scared. Those are the majority of references to Thanksgiving throughout the bible.

We can easily see the gifts around US, giving thanks for the food on our table and the roof over our head.  Can we go a little deeper, looking beyond the obvious? Jesus’s example of giving thanks always seemed to be EVEN BEFORE he received what he was asking. The beginning of his prayers always started with giving thanks.

Today, we ask each of you, before our shared homily continues, to take 2 minutes of silence, and write on the yellow paper we have given you, just like Maya Angelou, some thoughts on your own sense of living gratitude. And then, let’s share our thanksgiving together…

Use these questions to share:
  1. Do you notice anything about your gratitude?
  2. What feelings arise for you as you reflect on your gratitude?
  3. Did anything surprise you about your reflection?
  4. What do you want your gratitude to do for you?



Gratitude   By Joyce Rupp

To be grateful for what is,
Instead of underscoring what is not.
To find good amid the unwanted aspects of life,
Without denying the presence of the unwanted.

To focus on beauty in the little things in life,
As well as being deliberate about the great beauties
Of art, literature, music, and nature.

To be present to one’s own small space of life,
While stretching to the wide world beyond it.

To find something to laugh about in every day,
Even when there seems nothing to laugh about.

To search for and to see the good in others,
Rather than remembering their faults and weaknesses.

To taste life to the fullest,
And not take any part of it for granted.

To find ways to reach out and help the disenfranchised,
While also preserving their dignity and self-worth.

To be as loving and caring as possible,
In a culture that consistently challenges these virtues.

To be at peace
With what cannot be changed.

From the inspired words of Joyce Rupp.


Gratitude Thoughts from Maya Angelou


There was a time when I was in a state of utter despair, immersed in guilt over promises made on which I had not delivered. I went to my vocal coach, Fred Wilkerson, weeping copiously. He asked what was the matter. I responded, “I’m going crazy. I am almost at the brink of suicide.” He offered me a legal-size, lined yellow pad and a pen. He said, “Write down your blessings!” Furious that he didn’t understand my condition, I shouted, “Don’t talk nonsense, I’m telling you I am going crazy.” He said, “Write down that you could hear me say ‘write down’ and think of the millions who cannot hear the cries of their babies, or the sweet words of their beloveds, or the alarm that could help them seek safety. Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of the millions on this planet who cannot see the smiles of their growing children or the delight in the faces of their beloveds, or the colors of the sunrise and the softness of the twilight. Write down that you know how to write. Write down that you know how to read.” Wilkie, as he was known, gave me that lesson in 1955. Fifty-five years later, I have written 31 books, essays, plays, and lyrics for songs — all on yellow pads. I remain in an attitude of gratitude.


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— Maya Angelou

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