Thanksgiving Day 2018

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”—Psalm 136:1

Our family gathers around the Thanksgiving table every year. The venue changes (we’re in Rhode Island this year for the first time) but now the menu does not.

Mistakes were made. Once I cooked a wild turkey our sexton had hunted with a bow and arrow. Another year I abandoned my bread stuffing for a chipotle cornbread recipe I saw in a foodie magazine. These innovations were met with the kind of murmuring that a pastor hears when she changes the words of the Doxology, and for much the same reason.

Like a familiar liturgy, the reliable sameness of the items on the Thanksgiving table signal some order amidst the turbulence that takes place from year to year.

My parents are long gone, and our children are grown-ups with jobs, married, and there are now three grandchildren in the last two years.

Like most families we’ve had our share. We have weathered illnesses and injuries and periods of joblessness. We have seen our children off to college and move to other coasts. We have welcomed home a prodigal now and then.

So when we gather together before the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie there is something of the sacred about the feast before us. The simple fact of being together makes the time holy.

And like the sky above us, and the earth beneath our feet, the steadfast love of God frames our several journeys through time, for which we give thanks.

Prayer: Everlasting God, we thank you that your love and mercy endure to all generations.

(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotional for November 27, 2014 with yearly updates. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here. Photo of turkey by R.L. Floyd, who cooked it as well)

“Unexpected Miracles” A Sermon on Isaiah 43: 16-21

Last spring, when your pastors Bruce and Barb invited me to come be with you I didn’t realize that I would be with you on a momentous day. For today is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended The First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. So before this service is over we will have reached that centenary. Continue reading

“How to be a Neighbor” A Devotion on Luke 10: 29

“But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
—Luke 10:29

The lawyer in The Parable of the Good Samaritan tried to trick Jesus so he asked him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered by the Book: love God and love your neighbor. But the lawyer sought a loophole: “And who is my neighbor?” What he really wanted to know was “who is not my neighbor?” Continue reading

“For Free!” A Devotion on Ephesians 2: 8, 9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” —Ephesians 2: 8, 9

Do we take for granted those things in life that come to us for free? Since our society tends to commercialize everything, it becomes easy to value only that which we paid for or worked for. Continue reading

“The Elusive Presence” A Devotion on James 4:8

“Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.”—James 4:8

James makes knowing God sound easy, but I’ve never found it so. When I was a young man, and had outgrown my Sunday school faith, I hungered to know God, not just as an idea, but as a living relationship. Continue reading

A Eulogy for Rabbi Harold I. Salzmann

I’m Rick Floyd, a friend and clergy colleague of Rabbi Harold Salzmann. I am Pastor Emeritus of the First Church of Christ in Pittsfield down in Park Square.

I moved to Pittsfield in 1982 to be the pastor of the First Church. Harold had recently retired as rabbi here, and a few months after I arrived my friend Rabbi Alan Berg arrived to be the new rabbi.

My family and I have had a close association with the Temple. We lived across the street for 23 years. My son, Andrew, and my daughter, Rebecca, went to the Kid’s Pre-School here, under the capable watch of Lynn Denmark and Nancy Gagnon. I just saw Nancy before the service. My kids knew the Jewish Holidays before they knew their own. They began their education right here in this building. It must have been a good influence because my daughter went to Yale Divinity School and is an ordained minister. Continue reading

“Signs of God’s Reign” A Devotion on Matthew 15: 30,31.

“Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” —Matthew 15:30,31.

When the early church heard about the healings that Jesus had done they understood them as signs that the long awaited reign of God had begun in him. Continue reading