Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Thanksgiving Tradition

Like many of you, later this week my family will gather around a table with friends and enjoy a meal together. We will give thanks for our many blessings-- small and large. Before we eat we will keep our tradition of sharing some of these things we are thankful for. We will honor the tradition in a way that dear friends taught us when we shared one Thanksgiving with them when we hardly even knew each other. At Carrot Top Studio we believe in combining symbols to enhance meaning. We believe the visual helps this message stay with us. Knowing that, if you read on you'll probably understand why we like this tradition.

First, the table is set for dinner and the meal is set out. Hot food items are covered with aluminum foil or lids to keep them warm (even thought that isn't visually appealing :)). An apple and a cutting knife is placed at the place setting of the person that will lead the time of thankfulness.

Secondly, the apple is recognized as a sign of God's creation. It is a reminder of how he provides for us. As the explanation is occurring the apple is being cut into exactly as many pieces as needed for one per person at the table.Everyone is reminded of the first thanksgiving in the United States where tradition tells us that people came together out of thankfulness to we are doing today. The apple slices are passed and everyone takes one. One apple for each person is a bit of thankfulness of everyone having their due and also a prayer of intercession for those that might not have enough this day.

Each person takes an apple slice as the plate is passed and  they speak of something they are thankful for. 

Lastly, after everyone has had a time to share, a closing blessing is said or sung. We lean toward the doxology but if there are a lot of little ones in attendance the "Johnny Appleseed" blessing works well. The leader then holds up their apple slice and declares, "let us eat this small token of the bounty we have been provided and be thankful." And the sharing of the meal commences.

Blessings for your Thanksgiving Day to our American clients. To our other clients worldwide we wish you moments of thanksgiving with those you love and/or blessings for harvest celebrations.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Book Review: The Season of the Nativity

My personality is well suited to seasons of preparation. Therefore I've always been more
drawn to Advent than Christmas. Annually, I traditionally purchase a book about or for Advent. This year I picked up The Season of the Nativity: Confession and Practices of an Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Extremist  and quickly suspected I would like it when the author Sybil MacBeth confessed it took a long time for her to learn to enjoy Christmas. This resonated with me and I now especially see the twelve days of Christmas in a new light. I've always been intrigued by how to mark this time but have found it challenging given that society celebrates Christmas day and then moves into after Christmas mall sales and signing up everyone for exercise classes for their New Year's resolutions. The author has given me enough encouragement that I suspect I will do better than that this go around.

What I appreciated most about this book is that there is something for everyone from the new Christian learning what the church year calendar is all about to someone that has been following a liturgical cycle for decades.  In fact MacBeth points out that because we are continuously evolving that's exactly why we can year after year relive and learn anew from the stories of our faith. Amen!

Lastly, I think it's splendid that there is attention given to Epiphany. Growing up all I knew was to put a bean in the cake and the one that ended up with that piece won. There is and deserves to be more than this. 

So now I prepare for the season of preparation and look forward to some new additions to my rhythm and routine of the days in Advent. How will you mark these days?