Exeter United Methodist Church
Saturday, December 05, 2020

A Thanksgiving Letter

                                                    A Thanksgiving Letter

Exeter United Methodist Church


We gather together. The first three words of a very familiar old hymn describe what the vast majority of American families do on Thanksgiving: Gather.


But not so much this year. This year, our gatherings are restricted because of COVID-19. In fact, many people won’t enjoy any gathering at all. They will be alone.


If this is something you or someone you love is facing, let me offer some words that might help. 

I hope they don’t ring hollow.


First, remember that being by yourself doesn’t necessarily lead to loneliness. In fact (and I  mean this) spending time by ourselves, even during holidays, can actually be refreshing. In her book Journal of a Solitude, May Sarton (who lived her closing years in York, Maine) wrote:


In solitude there is healing. Speak to your soul, Listen to your heart.                                                        Sometimes in the absence of noise we find the answers.


While surely Thanksgiving solitude will be a jarring change, you just might be surprised how spiritually helpful it can be.


Secondly, remember you’ve had practice. Remember this year’s Easter? We actually didn’t gather in church! Even so, I’m guessing many of us discovered a deeper understanding of the Resurrection.            I know I did. Surely, we can use our Thanksgiving solitude in a similar way.


So here is my pastoral prescription for this Thanksgiving, for what it’s worth:


No matter your specific situation, find some time to be alone with the Bible. More specifically, read Psalm 100. Open your Bible to it in the morning and keep referring to it throughout the day. I promise all kinds of insight will come to you as a result of doing this. 

Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving

And His courts with praise;

Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

For the Lord is good

          and His love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues

          through all generations.


Finally (and this is very important), plan for a way to break your solitude. Plan for at least                        one phone call to a family member or a friend, and during the call share one thing that you have                learned on Thanksgiving. Something you have learned about yourself, or about God, or both.


And about how truly thankful you are.                                                                                                            --Rev. Jim