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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Time for Giving Thanks

When I came to the United States about three years ago, Thanksgiving was a complicated holiday. For me, it was, at first, a time for eating a stuffed turkey and watching a football game on a couch. Then, it also became a time for learning a part of U.S. history when the pilgrims arrived and what happened afterward. Today, November 15, 2004, Thanksgiving finally returned to its original meaning of “thanksgiving.” Having been held for the last four years, Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was celebrated at UMass Boston’s Interfaith Chapel. The origin of “thanksgiving” is, by the way, not in the early 1600s when pilgrims came to the U.S. “During this season, people have had thanksgiving festivals in many religions and cultures to celebrate and have thanked for a harvest,” says Reverend Adrienne Berry-Burton, a planner for the event. Indeed, a thanksgiving festival was celebrated by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, the Hebrews and the Egyptians. “So, we want to have our thanksgiving service open for anyone and thankful for anything,” added Rev. Berry-Burton. The beginning of the service was with a song “Just To Be” which expressed a joy of what it is “to be and to live.” Upon playing the song, Sister Dorothy Castles, co-organizer of this event, took out a box from which she handed us a piece of paper asking us to write down anything that we came up with to thank for while listening to the song. The box was painted several different colors by Sister Castles, and she said, “each color reminds me of different things happened this year that I’m thankful for.”

During the service, everyone who attended had an opportunity to name one’s blessings. One attendee who recently became a full-time student expressed, “I’m really grateful for learning, even it’s late.” Another international student showed his appreciation for being in the U.S. and able to study with his family’s support, and soon the chapel was filled with thanks and hope, on which Sister Castle commented, “I’m thankful for this gift of hope”.

For this service, Rev. Berry-Burton and Sister Castles prepared several passages for the attended people to read aloud, and they helped us realize the elements of our daily life that we tend to neglect. After reading a sentence, “I lift up my heart to you in gratitude, O God, for the deep and fertile smell of rain-soaked earth,” the reader remembered and expressed how she always loved the smell after the rain.

The service was closed with the benediction, but it was a bit different from the one normally held in church. Having a preacher in front of us, a sermon usually takes place with the whole audience looking at the preacher, but this time we all turned to our neighbor and offered the words of blessings. This was the idea of Rev. Berry-Burton whose church has practiced in this style before. “I love this way. It’s such a nice way to realize that having anyone next to you is blissful,” she said. After hearing Rev. Berry-Burton say this, we then chanted the words for each other. And now, here is are some for you, dear reader: “May the Divine One bless you. May the face of God Shine upon you and give you peace. Let this be true. Amen.”