Interfaith Thanksgiving

How do we support one another?

On November 19, on Benkard Ave, I stood with a dozen local clergy members and almost 100 members of our Newburgh communities.  At St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, we heard beautiful music and had fellowship together.  We heard words from Isaiah, Psalms, and Corinthians–from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Scriptures.  We sat and stood and sat and stood together.  We reminded ourselves that no matter our faith, we are one city.

Amidst these messages of peace and love, we shared good will.  We collected food and financial donations for Loaves and Fishes, which will feed over 1000 families in the City of Newburgh this year for Thanksgiving.  Thanks to donations from those attending, from supermarkets and the broader community, this miracle comes to pass every year.  Yet this miracle takes a lot of work to happen!

Every year it is down to the wire.  Every year, they do not know if they will have enough.  Usually, they find a way to make it work.  The families depend on the support of Loaves and Fishes.  Without it, they would have no turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and more.  While it is just one place where the fixings for a meal are available, we know that across the city, churches, synagogues and social service agencies are ensuring that families have what they need.

My question is about the rest of the year.  What are we doing then?  Sure, I schlepped some heavy potato sacks this week, but how will I help next week?  Or in July?  I can see the appreciation when I had someone a turkey, but how do I help so they do not need one next year?

Recently, I have seen political, racial, religious divisions run deeper than ever before.  I have heard and seen hate against virtually every segment of our population.  My faith teaches that we are all created in the Image of the Holy One.  I pray that these small acts of kindness for Thanksgiving will inspire us to work together throughout the year.  Let us hire people for our businesses who don’t look like us.  Let us invite people for coffee and dinner who talk differently than us.  Let us remember that no matter our politics, our faith, our color, we are all one.  Let us be thankful for the blessings we share.  When we share a smile and a thank you, it’s a lot harder to find hate.  As Father Bill Damroth shared with us in the words of William Watkinson, it is “far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.” Happy Thanksgiving!

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