Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 27, Harvest Thanksgiving

IMG_2883Harvest Thanksgiving at St.Columba’s, St. Catharines
MARK 10:2-16

In Canada, families will be gathering this weekend to celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. This can be a lovely, lonely, joyful or stressful time depending on the family. In this passage from Mark, the Pharisees are asking about the religious regulation for when families break down. At the time, a husband could easily dissolve a marriage, leaving the wife and children destitute. Jesus does not offer a legalistic response but instead calls these religious men back to first principles, the original intend of marriage, that is, a place where two equals become one.

I expect conversations around our Thanksgiving table may be quite animated this year as we weigh in on the American Supreme Court hearings. Was the senate judicial committee interested in principles of equality, justice and fairness or were they trying to find a legalistic workaround to justify a desired outcome? The hearings have put on full display where everyone can see the forces that fracture, distort and maim the beauty intended in intimate relationships.

True intimacy requires consent, vulnerability and equality—all issues of power—and all are central to God’s kingdom. I wonder how we establish and protect these values so that intimate relationships can be places of fulfillment, renewal, growth and grace and not victimization, suffering, subjugation and pain?

As I connect with God in prayer, I imagine the senators turning to Jesus and asking him, “Who do you think is telling the truth?” In my imagination I hear Jesus saying, “Is the truth what you seek? If so, then listen.”

HEBREWS 1:1-4, 2:5-12

We have started the Epistle to the Hebrews, which we will read over the next seven weeks. No one knows who wrote Hebrews but they were likely a Jewish follower of Jesus living in and around Jerusalem. The central message of the letter is to reassure the community, which is experiencing persecution and decline. This is relevant for today, because we can sometimes feel discouraged by society’s scoffing and by signs of change. The writer is saying: When you feel discouraged, focus on the person of Jesus and remind yourself of whom you are following.

Who is Jesus for you? What are the significant teachings of Jesus that have changed your life? In what ways is Jesus an example of faithful living for you?

Today, I will write down the lessons I have learned from the stories of Jesus and the ways these continue to inform how I want to live. Of course, since this is Thanksgiving weekend, I will start with thankfulness.


“For your love is before my eyes: I will walk faithfully with you.”

Do you see the world as a good or bad place? There is no doubt that there is much of both. However, a steady diet of the news can leave us with a negative distortion of what God originally created and deemed “good.”

A spiritual discipline is to look beyond yourself and attempt to see God in all that surrounds you. Where do you see God at work? Where is the Holy Spirit renewing and enlivening? What is God blessing? This takes intentionality, as it is not always easy to differentiate the beautiful from the grotesque, since beauty can sometimes be disagreeable and shallow and that which is ugly can be rich and wonderful.

I will attempt to walk faithfully this day, seeing the love that is before my eyes.

JOB 1:1, 2:1-10

Up against so much tragic suffering of the innocents, I voice that big question, “Why?”

The silence is deafening.

My prayer: Help me continue to feel pain so that I will respond to other’s need.

God’s prayer in me: Relinquish the need to know why.

One thought on “Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 27, Harvest Thanksgiving

  1. Catherine Gross says:

    Dear Dawn,

    As we spend another October in Lake Junaluska, NC surrounded by the beautiful Smokey Mountains, it is hard to come to grips with some of the ugliness going on as power and privilege refuse to let go. Yet the Holy Spirit is here always renewing and we meet that goodness in people wherever we travel. I’m reading What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Jewishness of Jesus by Rabbi Evan Moffic. He says so simply and truly ‘ Judaism – the faith of Abraham and Jesus – is an active faith. We believe God lives where we let God in.’ I think that speaks to your suggestion of the spiritual discipline of intentionally looking for God’s presence wherever we are. Oftentimes that’s just a fleeting thought and sometimes we miss it. But when it breaks through, hope and courage and faithfulness become tangible.

    Another thought of his that has implications for now – for Thanksgiving. In writing about Hanukkah. ‘The 8 nights of light was not the greatest miracle. The greatest miracle was that the Jews who entered the temple and found that small jar of oil decided to light it at all!’

    So, relinquish the need to know why and use that energy to be a small bit of light wherever we go, sounds like a truly necessary spiritual practice at this time.

    Love and continued blessings to you, David and Johanna this Thanksgiving. I miss you.


    Sent from my iPad



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