OUR LATEST

Radiant Joy Blog

Drawing People Together to Give Thanks

Over the years, when I lived in Westport, Connecticut, my favorite Thanksgiving tradition was the community’s approach to drawing people together to give thanks. Participating Catholic and Protestant churches and the Jewish temple would rotate from year to year as to where the town’s ecumenical Thanksgiving service would be held. We’d always attend, bringing our bread and wine to be blessed, praying and singing “Now Thank We All Our God, with hearts and hands and voices.” Even now, preparations are underway for Westport’s 44th annual Thanksgiving Day Community Feast—a sharing of food, good cheer and gratitude, expected to draw hundreds to Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s hall on Thursday this year—based on the notion that the first Thanksgiving in 1621 brought together diverse people, Pilgrims and people of the Wampanoag tribe, to celebrate the harvest.

I’ve always had a heart for unity within the Body of Christ. Jesus, in oneness with our Heavenly Father, also has a heart for unity ~John 17:21. It saddens me when I encounter division among Christians of different denominations, especially if that division is based on misunderstandings. I’m not lukewarm about my faith, so I relate especially well to others whose faith is of great importance and to those who want to grow and strengthen their faith. As a born-again Roman Catholic, I’ve greatly benefited from my associations with both Catholic and non-Catholic women of faith, whose love of Our Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit has been fervent and active. 

When my children were little, they first learned Bible verses by going to a neighborhood “Good News Club,” and when they were in elementary school, Catholic friends and I took them to a Protestant Vacation Bible School, which was so good that we then started a VBS at our Catholic parish the next year. As a member of a Catholic-sponsored Women’s Bible Study and a Mothers’ Group in Southern California and later a Presbyterian-sponsored Mothers’ Group in Northern California, I learned and felt supported through some difficult times through heartfelt prayers and discussions of the challenges so many of us faced in bringing up children to be faithful children of God. The spontaneous prayers and the Protestant women’s understanding of scripture and of God’s promises greatly blessed me and inspired me. Thanks to them, I have also been blessed by the music of worship leaders, whether they are non-Catholic or Catholic Christians—Here’s a link to my current favorite,  “A Thousand Hallelujahs.”

I’ve started and led a charismatic prayer group at a Catholic parish, and I’ve been in prayer groups at other Catholic parishes. At all those, we welcomed not only Catholics but our members of other Christian denominations. We regularly pray, praise, give thanks, sing, and bless one another week after week. When my sister-in-law was dying of cancer while their children were four and five years old, I was incredibly grateful for the support of the interdenominational Christian church she and my brother had joined. In 2006 through 2007, I was trained through a two-year Benedictine School for Spiritual Directors, which was Catholic-sponsored but also trained some Protestant pastors, leaders, and other beautifully reverent souls to be spiritual directors, including the person who became my closest spiritual friend and confidant. 

In later writings, I’ll be eager to discuss the Bible: how the Protestant and Catholic versions diverged and then how later translations of both based on the original languages have improved interdenominational relations, praise God!

My primary calling for about nine years has been Unbound ministry, which also fully embraces unity among believers of all Christian denominations. It helps set the captives (that is, all of us) free, in keeping with the mission of Jesus, aligned with the Word of God and works of mercy for the benefit of all Christian people who partake of this kind of individual prayer for healing and deliverance. The Unbound prayer model is a non-confrontational approach that turns deliverance into a personal and loving way of helping believers move from the kingdom of darkness or the influence of the tempter into the kingdom of light and the freedom that Christ died for his followers to enjoy. As Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free,” and John 8:36 says, “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” An essential key to freedom in Christ is forgiving those who’ve hurt or offended us, so I encourage everyone to go into Thanksgiving with forgiving hearts. (I’ll be writing more later about how to forgive the “unforgivable.”)

If you have further questions about any of this, I’d love to hear from you expressing questions, doubts, or encouragement. I consider this topic super important because as each of us abides in Christ, we recall Jesus’s prayer that we may all be one. We can learn from each other. We can respect each other, and we are called to love each other, just as the Good Samaritan loved the man robbers left wounded on the side of the road to Jerusalem.

So, I pray blessings and give thanks for all of you, that no matter what the present circumstances, you will gratefully celebrate this special U.S. holiday, or join in solidarity from whatever country you live in, drawing people together to give thanks to the good Lord and to radiate the joy of God’s infinite love! 

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
WhatsApp
Email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top