Faith in Westport: The 'truth' of Thanksgiving
Editor's note: "Faith" is a new feature in the Westport News (online at www.westport-news.com) featuring regular contributions from Westport's communities of faith. For information, contact John Schwing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving the last week of November, many Americans pause to reflect upon, and to recollect the year passing with such slippery speed (every succeeding week quicker than the last) in order to generously embrace the holidays soon upon us, and then as artfully and carefully as possible, step into the new year.
The pace of our lives this time of the year appears to quicken as so many of us turn toward a host of duties and responsibilities of getting, procuring, buying, preparing and making ready. It feels as if there is not enough time, not enough hours in a day or week or before the holidays to "do" all that needs to be done. Living under such pressure, we adults are not different from our children whom recent publications suggest live with ever-increasing pressures to "stay connected" with the world so swiftly passing by. Absorbed with hand-held gadgets and messaging devices "dominating" their minds and reducing their attention spans, our youth are simply "catching up with" many of us adults already "streamlining" our lives this time of the year as we "squeeze" value, quality time and meaning into our days that we get all things done "in time".
What if we were to consciously and intentionally chose to do it differently? What if we faithfully set aside the cultural, monetary and temporal pressures so controlling our lives to "turn the clocks back" to an earlier time, to the days of "yesteryear" when there was less "stuff" and more time; less pressure and more intention; less noise and more quiet to taste, touch, feel and believe?
The deepest meanings and reality of the holidays are, in fact, the holy days and the stories imbedded in these in these days of observance. Whether the story involves the "miracle" of an abundance of oil keeping the light of our lives burning, or the birth of a child who "miraculously" as both God and humankind affirms the love of God, the meaning and truth of these holidays is revealed in these stories are told and sung.
This past Sunday afternoon many from the wider community gathered to honor and observe our national holiday -- Thanksgiving. Scripture was read and stories were shared and sung from the great traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. At the heart of each of these religious traditions is a story -- of hardship and travail lived, of promises fulfilled, and of grace and glory fulfilled in relationship with God.
Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn, of the Conservative Synagogue, told an evocative story of a man yearning for paradise. Like so many of us this time of the year striving to find happiness and to do it all, the man assumed that joy and happiness would be found "out there" -- someplace beyond where he lived and who he was.
Rabbi Wiederhorn spoke the truth. Whether wealthy or poor; Jewish, Muslim or Christian; harried or hungry -- he reminded us that there is nothing "out there" that will ever satisfy our deepest needs. The truth is revealed in the telling of the story. And so this year, for those desirous of attending to the holy days beneath the holidays, we shall keep it simple. We shall tell our stories as we tell THE story, and we shall speak the truth in and with love.
CHRIST AND HOLY TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
55 Myrtle Ave., Westport 06880 / Phone: 203-227-0827
NUMBER OF PARISHIONERS: about 1,000
NEWS: 10th season of Music and Arts; Faith in Action is calling all cooks -- seeking recipes to feed 35 to 40 people that could be served at the Gillespie Center for people in need -- in a future cookbook.
PROGRAMS: Pre-school (enrollment for 2011-12 is now under way), Gillespie dinner ministry, intergenerational Women's Spirituality Group, Men's Discussion Group, weekly Bible study, Common Threads prayer shawl group.
COMING EVENTS: World-renowned male chorus Chanticleer, holiday concert, Dec. 3, 8 p.m.; Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols, Dec. 19, 5 p.m.