Tuesday, November 24, 2009

While Planning for Thanksgiving

I am not the most organized grocery shopper. That is why it seems like I have to go the local grocery store several times a week. Now part of the joy of the frequency comes down to seeing my neighbors. I see all sorts of folks when I am at HRD food store. Since I grew up in this town, I find I see retired teachers, parents of old friends, neighbors who I don't normally see when it is too cold to stroll around the neighborhood. So what I am saying, is that shopping can be as social as getting my groceries, and so I guess that is why I haven't spent much time over the past few months or years organizing to get down to one trip per week.

Now that it is Thanksgiving week, I have noticed that the pace of shoppers at HRD food store is more frantic, and people are more cranky. I decided, I am not returning again accept with a list so that I wont have to make several trips during the week or even in one day for the duration of this busy week.

One of the traditions of my home Church is to have the parishioners buy an additional item each week for the food pantry. If I forget to pick up the tuna, I will make a special trip to get it and then to drop it off in the basket at home Church so I can see people there. As I prepare for Thanksgiving, I am thinking about how lucky I am to be able to make these trips and put extra things in my basket, as I am aware that many are without jobs, or means of income and many are hungry, right around me.

It gets me thinking about how do we expect folks to create "go-bags" for emergencies, when many can't even access basic necessities. Perhaps congregational planning for emergencies or disaster will help people also make this connection within their own congregations. Perhaps while helping folks to prepare a communication plan and a "go-bag" they will become mindful of the disparity in their midst and start to understand the disparities in a more personal and profound way. If we start thinking of our C/church more collectively, perhaps we will start to break through our culture's bent of individualistic thinking.

While we collectively think about how we prepare ourselves in case of emergency, we will put an extra flashlight or communication plan on our to do list to help another person plan. Maybe we can have 4-5 families go in on a generator so that when the next ice storm hits, there is a collective group of folks who look after each other and make sure they are warm enough. Perhaps our churches could be warming shelters or emergency shelters for seniors who lose their power or for folks who have nowhere to go when emergency hits. Planning adequately for the inevitable...yes there will snow and ice and subzero temperatures this winter, of that I am certain...helps us to take inventory of what we have, what we need and who our neighbors are and what they need. It is not just a "keeping up with the Jones' inventory", it is a "how are we going to get through this together inventory".

A new colleague of mine who works for fire and rescue mentioned that hypothermia and dehydration are rampant within the senior community in winter and especially during ice storms. Folks who dont have heat stop moving around and hunker down. They drink tea rather than water and within a day many get confused and become hypothermic or dehydrated. Knowing this, if we looked at collective solutions in the towns that we have churches, we may find a new and helpful use for our underutilized old church buildings that would create reason and resources to renovate them and revitalize them. People may not be there on Sunday, but they will be there to get warm on a few other days during the cold weeks, and they will make friends and connections there and may look for other activities to do within those walls, like give thanks. If these activities bare fruit, there are other ways to obtain renovations to make buildings handicap accessible and to provide showers and washers/dryers where we dont already have them.

Sometimes we need a purpose other than just being. Sometimes we have to plan for emergency or disaster to force us to take inventory of the treasures that we have and decide how best to share those treasures. If our Church's treasure (or dis-ease) is our buildings, then we need to plan for how to best use them for the benefit of our parishioners and those yet churched. When we think outside our walls for how we serve our communities and therefore ourselves, we open the doors to a host of possibilities that we could not even imagine before!

While planning for Thanksgiving, I was thinking that there is still more light to break through regarding God's truth....a quote from John Robinson of our Pilgrim days. May we pause to reflect on how the gifts we have and the gifts some take for granted, may be used to help others.

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