One of the sweetest celebrations at my congregation happens every year about this time–a big Thanksgiving lunch. Almost everyone troops back to the hall after Sunday worship, and we all sit down together at the beat-up circular tables, pray and enjoy a terrific turkey dinner with all the trimmings. It’s been going on for as many years as anyone can remember, and it’s a lot of fun.
It used to be that people would chip in ahead of time, and one of the church’s longtime sparkplugs would take care of the whole thing, from ordering the turkeys to baking the pies to making sure the tables were set and cleared. But then a few years ago, she got tired of handling the whole immense project and announced her retirement. And no one volunteered to take her place as sparkplug of the Thanksgiving lunch–it was just too much for one person, or even a small committee.
Now in a lot of places, that would be the end of the Thanksgiving lunch.
A lot of work, a lot of fun
But people didn’t want to let it go. First a few men said they’d order the turkeys and take care of the roasting. Then a few families said they’d bring potatoes and gravy. Before long, it became a parish-wide operation. Everyone pitches in, carrying in side dishes and drinks and desserts, setting and clearing tables, washing and putting away all the dishes. (Why, yes, it does take a whole congregation to replace one woman. But you know that.)
It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun. The congregation is a closer community for it. And I think we have a deeper understanding of what it means to act generously on our gratitude together.
Generous giving in gratitude really makes a difference. I’ve seen it, right there in my own parish hall. Women of the ELCA has long had that deep understanding, and that’s why we offer all the tools women need to arrange Thankoffering services and to promote Thankofferings in their own gatherings and congregations. Have you acted boldly and generously on your gratitude? Have you made your Thankoffering?
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship and development for Women of the ELCA.
How to make your Thankoffering
Individuals may give online at welca.org/donate, or mail their checks, made out to Women of the ELCA with “Thankoffering” written on the memo line, to:
Women of the ELCA
ELCA Gift Processing Center
P.O. Box 1809
Merrifield VA 22116-8009
Units may mail their checks with Form B to the address shown above and on the form.