California News

For many, Thanksgiving isn’t just one day of the year. It’s a way of life.

President Abraham Lincoln invited Americans in 1863 to set aside a Thursday in November to thank God and pray for the unification of a divided nation.

Yet, as critical as that first official Thanksgiving was to the nation’s history and healing, even a visionary like Lincoln could not have foreseen the continued importance of this quintessentially American annual holiday.

For Americans of many faiths, Thanksgiving – celebrated this year on November 24 – is a unique blend of spirituality and gratitude for the nation’s generosity, individual and family well-being, and a deep appreciation for the historical roots of the nation. daytime.

“As believers, we have everything to be grateful for,” says Bill Trok, senior pastor of Ridgeview Church in Valley Center and director of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department chaplaincy program.

Indeed, he notes, individuals can derive great personal benefit from the habit of gratitude.

“Even in our angst we can learn a kind of gratitude,” he says, “and at this time of year it’s important to reinforce that message.”

As a church, he says, Ridgeview has grouped its recent posts around the acronym ACTS – which stands for Acceptance, Truth and Service.

“I believe that if people can live these ideas – have a sense of what is true, reject lies with humility and serve others – then that engenders a whole new attitude of gratitude.”

Ridgeview has three new initiatives, Trok says, that put gratitude and service into practice. Two are for first responders, including providing premium event tickets to deputies working in San Diego County jails, and partnering with a local Catholic church to host meals for officers, medics and firefighters . The third, Help a Neighbor, creates programs to help the migrant community.

And while it’s hard to know how much of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving is historic versus legendary, he loves the ideal of peace between different ethnic, religious and racial groups.

“God’s ways are not only right, but they are good for us,” he says.

“Grateful people have a better life,” says Trok. “Maintaining gratitude benefits us emotionally, personally, physically, and professionally. Things go better for those who are grateful.

“Gratitude, however, shouldn’t just be a seasonal thing, but a way of life.”

‘It’s a way of life’

“I love American Thanksgiving,” says Obed Brefo, senior pastor of King’s Cross Church in La Jolla, who grew up in Britain. Beyond the delicious, plentiful holiday food and televised National Football League games, he says, “Thanksgiving is like Christmas minus the stress of presents and the rush.

“It’s about thanking God and thanking people – and that’s a gift in itself,” Briefo adds. “As a Christian, I enjoy Thanksgiving because the holiday is rooted in the idea of ​​people who have historically come here to practice religious freedom.”

While preaching his sermon on Sunday, November 20, a few days before the holiday, he says he will make one thing clear: “For Christians, Thanksgiving is more than a day of celebration. It’s a way of life.”

He says he and his wife, Elena, try to make the practice of being grateful resonate every day with their three children. They encourage children – ages 6, 8 and 10 – to express their gratitude for various things and people in their lives during dinnertime.

“We want them to be grateful for what they have.”

In the scriptures, he notes, “there are dozens of exaltations for us to be thankful for, to give thanks to God for who he is and what he has done in our lives.”

As King’s Cross leaders prepare for service for Thanksgiving week, he says, “we will be very intentional in our pastoral prayer, scripture reading and selections for musical worship.”

Heartfelt thanks

For Aaron Buttery, ordained at Flood Church in San Diego, Thanksgiving confirms his calling as a pastor, preacher and prison counselor.

One of five court ministers at the Richard J. Donovan State Correctional Institution, Buttery says it’s not unusual for prisoners to be grateful for their imprisonment during the annual Thanksgiving service of the jail.

“They say, ‘I’m thankful that God sent me to prison because otherwise I would be dead,'” Buttery explains. “They’ll tell you that their friends are gangsters – and they’re all dead. They say, ‘Not only am I alive, but I am alive in Christ, and I know what life really is.’

“The Thanksgiving service is a time that I wish more people in our society could witness,” Buttery says. “Here you have a population that, from the outside, doesn’t seem to have much to thank. But they have hearts of gratitude. They are grateful for their health, the food they eat, and they have a heart for the homeless and refugees.

The recognition of the prisoners is gratifying for the 40-year-old Clairemontais.

“That fills my cup,” he said simply. “These men are truly models of heartfelt thanks.”

While helping men with drug addictions, legal trials and the difficult stressors involved in incarceration, he adds, is vital.

And this year, as a newlywed and soon-to-be father, Buttery notes he has a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday.

“My family is something I have prayed for for many years,” he says.

Douglas is a freelance writer.

California Daily Newspapers

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