Now Thank We All Our God: The Community Gathers In Thanksgiving with Pastor Judy and Pastor Marina Teresa, RC Women Priests
Members and friends of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, Florida gathered on Saturday 11/17/2018 to give thanks to God and to bless one another with love and joy. This very special community is made up of formerly homeless, homeless and a variety of other members who are dedicated to compassion and justice for the poorest among us. The celebrants for the traditional Mass were Pastor Judy Lee,RCWP and Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia,RCWP. After a joyful worship service in which all join in consecration and all are welcomed to the Table, we also enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast prepared by Kathy Roddy and we celebrated several birthdays as well. As one member noted “the family is here together”. Twenty-three of us of all cultures and colors and life situations ranging in age from one year to 89 years with five young adults present as well were able to gather and also to pray for those who were not with us due to illness, death or other reasons. We prayed for the sick among us with a laying on of hands. We reflected that our dearly departed members including Co-Pastor Judy Beaumont, RCWP and Linda Maybin, Gary Knafla, Claire Powley,Mike Murray, Robert Swanson and several others were truly with us in spirit. And we welcomed Nancy Chism of Naples, Florida and “JG”,another newer member to our midst. We noted that several members from the 2007 Church in the Park and also from our Good Shepherd Church in the House were present and enjoying their homes and being together over the years. Some had come through life threatening illnesses and some were still battling cancer, brittle diabetes and other illnesses, some still struggled with how unbelievably hard loss is, and some struggled with how the future will be for them. But all expressed thanksgiving and hope.
The Readings for the day were Deuteronomy 8:7-18; Psalm 67; I Corinthians 13-9 and Luke 17: 11-19. In the Hebrew Scriptures we were reminded that it is our God who meets our needs and Who guides and sustains us through the wildernesses we face in life. There are many dangers in the wilderness, but God protects us from harm and fear and actually feeds and nurtures us in the hardest of times as well as in the best of times. Some of us are going through the hardest of times now. (We can think of our own lives and also of the people in the Caravan from Central America, and the people in the wild and all consuming fires in California). And we reflect on God with us through those hard times and we are thankful, even despite the difficulties and sometimes because of them, that we know that God still has our back. We are not alone and we can’t do it on our own. Yet, no matter how strong it seems, Evil will not prevail. God is still with us. Thanks be to God.
In I Corinthians 1 Paul tells the church in Corinth that he is thankful for them, for witnessing their considerable spiritual gifts in action. Pastor Judy reflected on how thankful she is for the good Shepherd church members who live the gospel and serve one another and others in great need. And like Paul, she noted “God will strengthen you until the end. God is faithful.”
Our Cook Kathy
And finally In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus gives us the parable of the ten lepers. All were healed when they asked Jesus to heal them, all were made whole. But nine went on their way while only one, a foreigner, a Samaritan, came back to say thank you. In fact, he could hardly contain his thanks and joy. Jesus said that this man’s faith had indeed saved him. And, our faith in the midst of strong troubles not only in times of smooth sailing, is what is healing us. We see that Jesus is touching all of us, and healing us- making us whole- even in the midst of trouble-we are made capable of love and joy on every level of our being. And the people said AMEN!
I only wish I could have captured the looks on the faces of those gathered as we sang “Thank you, God” together. It was from the bottom of our hearts and souls.
There was also a special joy in welcoming Phyllis’s newest grand child Derrick, almost one. And also in sharing the hopes of some of our younger members.
We closed our worship with a spirited variation of the hymn “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” with She’s got the whole world in Her hands- God, our loving Mother and Father, is carrying us and our world. And finally WE have the whole world in our hands-it is our job to care for the environment, for all God’s creatures,and for one another. And we are so thankful for the opportunity to make church together and to do this as a church community.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP