23 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Hong Kong!

My father taught me that there are two opportunities you never pass up (passed down from his father, Wesley Biddle Notgrass): 1. The opportunity to go to the bathroom and 2. The opportunity to say 'thank you.'

As a general rule for life I find this has been excellent advice.

Today I attended an ecumenical Thanksgiving Day service at St. John's Cathedral, with participants from Baptist, Methodist, Union, and Community churches. Also in attendance was the American Consul General, the Honorable Stephen M. Young. He read the Thanksgiving statement from President Obama and we all sang "America The Beautiful."

Clergy from all of the churches participated in readings, prayers, and the homily. Gratitude infused the proceedings, and a sense that in being grateful we give to others and to God. "All things come of thee O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee." The offering for the day went to the St. James Settlement Food Bank.

Honorable Stephen Young, Yours Truly, Rev. David
Afterward there were some refreshments served on the north lawn, graciously donated by the Conrad Hotel. We had little pumpkin pies, cranberry pecan pies, sandwiches, juice, coffee, tea, quiche. One of the priests of St. John's, Father David, wanted to get a picture with me and the American Consul to send to a friend of his in America so my friend Alex snapped a lovely photo of the three of us. 

I have much to be thankful for in my life. A loving and supportive family, friends both in the States and in Hong Kong, my home parish St. Paul's, St. John's Cathedral, and the many blessings I receive on a daily basis. I am grateful for the opportunity to live and serve in Hong Kong and to be with the people here. My health, the food that I eat, the clothes that I wear.

When I was a little girl I used to watch Disney's "Pollyanna" film. I didn't read the book it was based on until I was an adult and I was surprised at how moving I found it. Her optimistic attitude stemmed from "The Glad Game", which she learned from her father and consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. There's a chapter where she comes upon a minister despairing in the woods about all of the troubles plaguing his congregation. She tells him that the source of the Glad Game comes from the "rejoicin texts"--verses in the Bible that tell us to rejoice and be glad. The minister ponders on this and realizes that what people need is encouragement. People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it; but when you know you will find the good, you will see it. The influence of a helpful, cheerful presence is contagious. So inspired was he by Pollyanna's gladness that he changed the sermon he was going to write and instead gave "a veritable bugle call to the best in every man and woman and child that heard it." Indeed, Pollyanna's influence turns a whole town of curmudgeons into a pleasant place to live. While that is fiction, of course, there is a nugget of truth in there: a thankful heart is a happy heart.

So I hope you will all rejoice and be glad this day and every day. I leave you with this prayer of Richard of Chichester:

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.

Grace and Peace,

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