Ralph Purri leads the joint choir in a song of thanks.
"Giving thanks...opens us up to see more blessings around us. It also opens our hands to help others more."
Offering personal examples and stories highlighting the centrality of thanks in the life of an individual, a worshiping community, or a nation devoted to God, Rev. Matt Staniz of Temple Lutheran Church addressed the more than 100 people filling the chapel at St. Raphaela Center on Wednesday evening, November 24.
The occasion was the annual Thanksgiving Eve Interfaith Service for Haverford Township, and numerous participants from congregations and organizations throughout the township brought a warm and joyous tone to this year's event. Sister Margaret Scott, aci, Director of the St. Raphaela Center , welcomed the people, even as folding chairs were being brought in to accommodate the overflow. Ralph Purri, Music Director at St. Denis, not only led the joint choir in two pieces, but also ably taught and then led the congregation in hymns and responses. He and Jo Cauffman (of Hope United Methodist Church) accompanied the singing on organ and electronic piano.
Roe Miller, President of SJCC Bnai Aaron read a Jewish prayer for the miracles of the first Thanksgiving, while Dan Kirby, Director of Youth &Family Ministries at Union United Methodist Church, led the people in praise with guitar and voice. Reading the scripture lessons were Fr. James McKeaney of St. John Neumann Church, Rev. Jim McIntyre of Hope United Methodist Church, and Tim Denny, Director of Township Parks & Recreation. Clergy Association Secretary Rev. Mary Jane Kirby, also of Union United Methodist Church, gave a call for thank-offerings to benefit the Interfaith Hospitality Network in Delaware County, and Rev. Lynn Lampman of St. James United Church of Christ led a time of prayer and intercession. President of Haverford Towsnhip Clergy Associaton, Rev. Nishan Bakalian of Armenian Martyrs' Congregational Church, closed the service with the benediction. A grateful throng then enjoyed the refreshments prepared by the sisters of St. Raphaela Center as they shared a time of fellowship around tables.
In his message Rev. Staniz pointed out that when gratitude is built into the life of a people, as we see in the life of Israel in Deuteronomy, they are led "from thankful living to thankful giving." That spirit, we hope, is being exemplified in our community and congregations as they worship and serve, individually or together, in God's name.