November 24, 2019

As we gather this weekend to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we look back with gratitude and look forward with great anticipation. Our gratitude flows from all that has been during this liturgical year which began on December 2, 2018.

On Thursday of this week we will gather with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving Day provides an opportunity to be particularly mindful of how abundantly God has blessed us. In addition to our family gatherings we have two opportunities for prayer and worship together.

On Wednesday evening of this week, November 27, I invite you to join people of faith from all over Clark County as we celebrate our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve Service. This year Salmon Creek United Methodist Church is hosting our service. It starts at 7:00 pm and I hope you will make plans to be part of this wonderful coming together of people of faith to pray in thanks, and to ask God’s help in the coming year.

On Thanksgiving Day we will have our annual Thanksgiving Mass at 9:00 am. This is one of my favorite liturgies of the whole year as it brings together people from our parish who worship at different liturgies on a typical weekend. At this Mass you are invited to bring your food and monetary gifts for distribution by our St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Reaching out to those in need during these days of Thanksgiving is a natural instinct for us. As we count our own blessings we turn to those who are in need in our community. We also begin our Giving Tree project for this year which will culminate in a wonderful day of gift giving on December 21.

We are also looking forward to our first week of serving this year at the Winter Hospitality Overflow Shelter (WHO) at St. Andrew Lutheran Church. Our week of service begins on December 8, and I encourage you to sign up for a shift – or more than one shift – to help staff the shelter.

Over the years this has been a profoundly good experience for those who offer their time and talent to serve. You may recall the wonderful witness that the Hideo family gave in our Bulletin a few weeks ago. Serving at the WHO was transformative for their whole family.

There are many blessings in serving at the WHO. To connect with men, women and children who are homeless puts us in touch with people who are of particular concern to our God. We know that throughout our scriptures and in our Church teaching, encountering people who are poor and sharing time with them to assist them, to accompany them, and to advocate for them is fundamental to what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Such service and encounter also helps to dispel myths about people who are homeless. Some statistics help to dispel these myths as well. For example, did you know that 79% of those who are homeless in Clark County had homes in our county prior to becoming homeless? Did you know that 47% of those who are homeless are members of families with children?

In being with folks at the WHO we learn that most of the people who are homeless (54%) are homeless because of lack of income and a lack of affordable housing. Most of the 50 families that are served at the WHO have a member who is working.

These are just some of the statistics (which come from what is called The Point in Time Count that occurs all over the country each January) that are enfleshed in real families that we have the privilege of accompanying at the WHO. I hope you will sign up to serve at the WHO this year. As we know from the Hideo Family, and so many other folks in our parish, it is both a responsibility and a privilege to serve those who are in need.

I pray that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year and that all of us may work to create a world where Christ reigns supreme and his Kingdom of Justice and Peace ensures that all people have access to the basic necessities of food and housing.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni