November: Coming into God’s Presence with Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)

By Rev. Dr. HiRho Park

In Christian liturgical traditions, November signifies the conclusion of the liturgical year as we prepare for Advent, the start of the new liturgical year. During this month, the Church contemplates themes of eschatology, the last things, and the culmination of the Christian narrative.

Christians begin November with All Saints Sunday, a day dedicated to honoring our ancestors and friends who are considered saints. The term “saint” originates from the Greek word “hagios,” meaning “holy” or “set apart.” In the New Testament, “saint” is used to refer to all believers who have faith in Jesus Christ. For instance, in Paul’s letters, he often addresses his epistles to the “saints” in a specific city or region. Paul initiates his greetings to the Romans by saying, “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). Thus, from a biblical perspective, all Christians are considered “saints” because they are set apart and consecrated for a life of faith in Christ. On November 5 at 11:00 a.m., we will honor all saints who have gone before us at BUMC. This day is an opportunity to remember and express gratitude for the lives of all Christians who have lived faithfully and are believed to be in the presence of God. On All Saints’ Sunday, we will specifically celebrate those who have been exemplary in their faith or who have made significant contributions to our lives.

Thanksgiving transcends religious, cultural, and political boundaries.

– Rev. HiRho

Furthermore, we conclude November with Thanksgiving Day, a time for pausing, reflecting, and expressing gratitude for the numerous blessings in our lives. It is a moment for family and friends to gather around, share a meal, and create lasting memories. Historically, Thanksgiving was a celebration of the harvest and the abundance it brought. Therefore, the concept of abundance remains at the core of this holiday. As Christians, we give thanks to God for His abundant love and grace throughout our journey of life, acknowledging both challenges and triumphs and setting intentions for the future. Hence, Thanksgiving often involves acts of generosity. On November 19, we will dedicate our pledges on Consecration Sunday at BUMC. Through our actions, such as dedicating our pledges, assisting those in need, or volunteering our time for the betterment of our faith community, we will offer praise and thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving transcends religious, cultural, and political boundaries. It is a day where people from diverse backgrounds can come together to celebrate common values of gratitude and togetherness. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to strengthen bonds with the individuals who hold great significance in our lives, including our neighbors. On November 20 at 7:30 p.m., we will join the Beth El Jewish Congregation at the BUMC sanctuary to pray for peace. Praying for peace in the Middle East with our Jewish friends is a beautiful and meaningful way to express our concerns for the innocent people affected by violence and war this year.

November instills a sense of hope within us. It serves as a reminder that even during challenging times, there are still reasons to be thankful and to rely on God’s grace. May you fully embrace the month of November as a time of thanksgiving for everything we often take for granted. It reminds Christians to appreciate the simple pleasures, the love of our families, and the abundance of God’s love in our lives. Let us welcome November as a month to reflect on the abundance and blessings in our lives, appreciate our connections with others, and embrace a spirit of gratitude and generosity despite life’s challenging circumstances.

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