Weekly Message from Rev. T. J.

That Time of Year

Well, it’s that time of year again…time to plan for Thanksgiving! The annual Nu’uanu Valley Interfaith Thanksgiving Service is in full planning mode, and in meetings taking place on Zoom, from a few different corners of the globe, our merry band of planners is at it again. We are looking for ways to bring folks together in a time when we are feeling and experiencing so much loss, so much separateness. The way we do this is by choosing a theme for the service that is often tied to a song. And this whole process reminds me of something pretty silly.

Some of you might remember the quirky show Ally McBeal conceived by David E. Kelly and starring Calista Flockhart. There was an episode of that show where a therapist, if I recall, suggested that Ally select a theme song for the day, or really, for her life. The idea was that this might give her some order or direction. I’m stretching into the negligibly reliable annals of my memory, but I think the song she chose was Walkin’ on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves, an saccharine sweet bit of an 80s tune, complete with clapping, “Yeahs,” and jubilation, but it might have been Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede.

In any case, it was a sitcom, so you can guess what happened. Ally started off with the tune charging up her morning, but stepping in puddles, dropping coffee, and all kinds of other obstacles upset her theme song and her morning. She wasn’t walking on sunshine so much as she was stumbling in the gray of reality. But we get this, right? In a sense, songs are moods. Hours, if not weeks, if not years (in the case of some of the greatest songs) go into making more than a song—making a feeling.

Faith communities were in the “theme song” business before operas, musicals, movies, and yes, even Ally McBeal. Faith communities today are inheritors of literally millennia of weeks filled with planned thematic music for the coming worship time. But I think Ally’s therapist was on to something more. Why not worship the morning, worship the day, worship the water, worship the sun (while wearing sun screen)? Humans are worshipful creatures. We offer our attention to all kinds of things—we often give it away without much thought. And how we worship shapes us, whether we want it to or not.

Maybe picking a theme for that worship rather than simply stumbling into puddles will help. Or maybe we also need to take a walk on some sunshine with hands clapping all along the way. It’s easy to get hooked on that feeling, I’m told. It’s what keeps so many coming back over and over to share and blend their worship together into the world we get to share. It might look like church, it might look like the gym, it might be a walk, a cup of coffee or a smile. But for me, every day I get to do these again is another day of Thanksgiving.

It’s that time of day again friends…time to plan for Thanksgiving!

And may it ever be so
Rev. T. J.

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