November 2018   
Minister's Monthly Column

November 2018


In all things, give thanks” so says the sign in the office I share with Reverend Caitlin.  This sign was a gift from a congregant many years ago and although many details of that space change over time, that’s one message that remains steady.

Years ago I sat at the table with a grieving couple as we planned a memorial service for their son who had suffered an unexpected and violent death.   Understandably, the family was reeling.  On his way out the door, the father glanced over his shoulder:  “In all things, give thanks.”   I followed his gaze as he asked, “Do you think I’ll feel that way at the end of all of this?”  I assured him that even in the stormiest moments in our lives, there is something about which we may be grateful and for which we will be able to give thanks. 

I know that gratitude is difficult in hard times especially.  But gratitude is sometimes the tiny rope that helps pull us out of the doldrums or flat out tragedy. 

Each year All Souls enters a simple ritual of thanksgiving the Sunday before Thanksgiving, this year, November 18. The week before, everyone is invited to write down that for which they are grateful.  In the days that follow, I shuffle through those sacred slips of paper and group them together into categories typically:  family & friends / home / work etc. etc.  I knit them together to form a rich and warm expression of thanksgiving that’s then shared the following week.  As well, we enter into one of the three communion rituals observed at All Souls:  Bread Communion. All are invited to bake a loaf of bread and bring it to church to share … to break bread together.  (If you’re not a baker of bread please, no worries!  There is always plenty.)  On Sunday morning, there is a buzz of activity in the kitchen where breads of all kinds (including gluten free!) are sliced and placed in baskets all of which are arranged on the chancel table for the feast.  The bread is blessed … a prayer of thanksgiving is offered as much to be reminded of the millions of people in our beautiful yet suffering world who have so little, sometimes not even a crust of bread.  Members of the youth group then pass the bread through the congregation.  We wait until everyone has been served to raise the bread to our faces and breath in the lovely scent of yeast and sweet anticipation.  And then we eat bread together.  This ritual is done in a soothing and reflective quiet that lands as together we sing, “Amen.” 

It’s so simple and yet for many souls, it is one of the most powerful services of the year.  I’m one of them.  I love this service so much.  And to up the beauty, the choir always sings. 

I share this reflection because a congregation just as surely changes from week to week as it does from generation to generation.  Some who are reading this newsletter may not know much about this ritual and this service and others of you may have broken bread in Unity Hall the Sunday before Thanksgiving countless times.  For the latter, this reflection is a reminder.  For the former, it’s an invitation.

This year a congregational meeting will follow the service.  Read all about it.  These are exciting days at All Souls.  I’m so grateful to be serving as your minister.

With Love and hope for a meaningful thanksgiving season for all,



I’m frequently asked for good table blessings around this time of year.  Here are a few.  And know that you can simply say, “Thank you and blessed be.”  That’s blessing and grace enough. 


[We give thanks …]

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food.

For love and friends.

For everything Thy goodness sends. 

                                                      Ralph Waldo Emerson


Those around the table take hands:

May the love that is in my heart pass from my hand to yours.

                                            Traditional American Grace

Round the table;

peace and joy prevail.

May all who share

this season’s delight

enjoy countless more.

                                                               Chinese Blessing