Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in a Different Key

As part of the Stewardship Campaign this year, the leaders of our parish decided to focus on two new ventures. They identified a new internal ministry: ministry to young families. And they opted to focus our energies on one external mission: to our local Salvation Army. I’m grateful they gave us this focus.

The mission focus strikes me as funny, in some ways. The Salvation Army must be as far as far can be from Episcopal liturgy and theology. But the Salvation Army here has the only homeless shelter in town, the only regular food ministry in our community. Our parish built a prayer garden on their grounds a couple years ago. This year, with support from our diocese, we built a playground for the children who live in their facility. So the vestry is building on a relationship that we have built slowly, and it feels right (if slightly incongruous and surprising).

In the last few days, with Thanksgiving Day looming, I suddenly had a thought: I could volunteer to help serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army. No guilt about the undeserved plenty I enjoy. No angst about family. I could spend the day giving thanks and sharing blessings instead of stuffing my mouth with food I don’t actually need nowadays.

Mind you, that notion pushed me far outside my comfort zone. While I recognize I could have been one of the homeless not long ago, I also feel deeply inadequate to serve in this ministry. In the past few weeks in my parish, I have beseeched our leadership to equip people like me for this ministry. I don’t know how to do it. I feel wholly inept and unprepared. What can I offer? The Peace of the Lord and a heap of mashed potatoes? Maybe. That doesn’t sound so bad to me, actually.

I went to the Salvation Army this afternoon to give them a smoked turkey I had bought, and I talked with one of their volunteer coordinators. She made me feel inspired – that I can do this.

I feel inept. But I am also hopeful to think I can step outside my comfort zone.

So that’s where I’ll be tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m. Preparing food and serving. And you know what? Having no “Thanksgiving invitation,” early today I had tried to make a little grocery list of what I could make as a faux feast for myself. Now … I am looking forward to sharing a meal tomorrow with the folks at the Salvation Army Center. Weird as it seems to me, I’m looking forward to this more than I’ve looked forward to any Thanksgiving in a very long time.

Not about me! THANKS BE TO GOD!

I’ll let you know how it goes. I pray I’ll lose myself once I get into it. If you’re still up, please say a little prayer for me. As I've said too many times, this is going to push me outside my comfort zone. But I want to be pushed. I need to be pushed.


Blogger susan s. said...

I believe you don't really need much training to be there tomorrow. Show up, be willing to do what they ask and smile while you're putting those potatoes on the plate! It may sound trite, but Jesus will be there in every face you see.

11/26/2009 1:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I pray you are right, Susan.

Here's the thing: I want to be generous. I want to be hospitable. And I desperately want to shove my self-consciousness out of the way!

I am grateful for your words. Thank you.

11/26/2009 1:09 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

You'll be fine. Trust me. Some years ago, I served meals at a senior citizens' meal, and graciousness and a polite smile (and energy) was all that was needed.

11/26/2009 7:05 AM  
Blogger bfelice said...

Lisa! We your friends are thankful for you on the days you work selflessly and also the days when you do nothing "productive" and kick back!

11/26/2009 11:58 AM  
Blogger Fran said...

This made me cry - beautiful. Blessings to you Lisa!

11/26/2009 9:37 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

You have all the training you need. Listen to me, I've done this a million times, all you do is go. Just go. That's 90 percent of it. Show up and see what happens. Lisa, you are so beautiful, and grace-filled, and loving that you won't have to do anything at all, just be there. And then blog on it, please!

11/27/2009 1:33 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.

It did go well. It was a profound blessing. In fact, I stayed off the computer for 1.5 days. I just wanted to be still and process the experience.

Lindy, I promise I will write about it. Tomorrow, probably.

11/27/2009 10:53 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

Take your time. Maybe sit with it for awhile.

I knew you'd be great!

11/28/2009 3:19 AM  
Blogger David said...

you're awesome
and not only for leaving yourself open to this new Thanksgivng.

you can tell me to shut ma mouth, but i think i've seen a few too many instances of you under-estimating yourself, not giving yourself enough credit for the adventure in very real grace your life is.

your honest humanity, your thoughtful insights, your honest love and longing for the Church we're called to be, are what keep briging me back to your blog.

writing too late for your new Thanksgiving, I'd just second the sense of everyone else to 'just show up-' you're both the gift and the recipient, and that's also where the Holy Spirit finds you- stepping outside your comfort zone with love and trust.

Thank-you again Lisa, you really are a gift!


11/28/2009 8:06 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

David, far from telling to "shut your mouth," I give thanks for what you wrote. What you say I am is what I want to be. I just never really believe I'm there.

Deep thanks for your kind and encouraging comments, David.

11/28/2009 3:43 PM  
Blogger terri c said...

I came upon your post too late to offer encouragement but am glad to see that you had a good experience. Will be eager to read when you blog about it.

11/29/2009 11:14 AM  
Blogger Joanna Depue said...

'though I don't see a post about it, I'm certain there was a lot of grace goin' on during the service you offered. Blessing and being blessed. The ingredient (ministry)of presence is a miracle to everyone involved. Looking forward to your account of your new Thanksgiving. Peace and blessing.

11/30/2009 8:30 PM  

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