Thanksgiving “Truckin'”

Bulletins for Advent 1:

29 November 2020 Advent 1 B Service Script = Word

29 November 2020 Advent 1 B Service Script = .pdf

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I was never  a “Dead Head.”

(For you youngsters out there, that means a fan of all things “Grateful Dead,” including their music, their vibe, their following, and perhaps for some, an appreciation of their favorite herbs and spices.)

But you couldn’t grow up in the 1960’s and 70’s without having heard some of their tunes over and over again, and there isn’t a person in my generation who — from time to time — doesn’t think about “what a long strange trip it’s been.”

That’s the last line from the chorus of their hit “Truckin’,” which itself spawned a remarkable host of graphics and paintings. Though I can’t put my hands on it right now (we’re rearranging rooms at our house these days), I have a bright blue and red silk screen print of “Truckin’ Nuns” by Boston artist, political cartoonist, and television producer, DEnglish, a classmate of mine at Hampshire College. (Update: I found it and will post a picture when I can.)

Thanksgiving — for most of us — involves at least a moment of looking back at the blessings we have enjoyed in the last year or so.

For some of us this year, it will be easy enough. If we have made it through this much of the pandemic with our health, thanks be to God! But all of us have been at the very least inconvenienced by COVID-19 precautions that we may have to look harder, or at least in different places to find the divine Providence that is still present in this world.

But that work is worth it on two counts. First, God is still here with us (“Emmanuel,” don’t you know!) and there is no dearth of blessings around us — they’re just different this year. And second, it is good to think of this, not as a one time, one  year, phenomenon, but perhaps as a chance to broaden our thinking about where to look for the hand of God.

For example, for many of us, we find God’s presence in the beauty of Emmanuel church’s sanctuary. For most of us, that experience has been shut down for almost all year. So — to use language from our Prayerbook tradition — where else can we connect with the beauty of holiness?

Many of us are accustomed to gathering with friends and family during the holidays, but this year we are being strenuously warned to keep home to keep safe. How else can we create the fellowship that is so important this season?

None of us can say what will happen during the next weeks and months with anything like confidence. So what do we do? Jerome J. Garcia and his crew have as good advice as any:

Keep truckin’, like the doo-dah man
Together, more or less in line
Just keep truckin’ on

Truckin’, I’m a goin’ home
Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong
Back home, sit down and patch my bones
And get back truckin’ on

Or, as the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews put it, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”

The Rev’d Canon Dr. Mark Gatza




*PS: Jerry Garcia (minus his Grateful Dead retinue) recorded a terrific version of “Amazing Grace” with Tony Rice and David Grissman, which you can find here:

Amazing Grace ☮ Jerry Garcia – YouTube


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