At a time when many are struggling, we asked Rye’s religious leaders to guide us in helping those in need.
The Rev. Kate Malin, who has been the Rector at Christ’s Church since 2018, considers herself, above all, a parish priest committed to helping people grow spiritually through creative engagement with worship and the Bible, both of which she considers living things. She believes that engagement with our faith is meant to be fueled by love and that helping others begins with our own regular practice of gratitude.
“Many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving by taking a moment to name our blessings, perhaps around the holiday table,” she said. “When we build this simple ritual into our daily lives all year round, we expand our awareness of countless opportunities to be channels of goodness and grace to others, in ways large and small.”
She encourages us to reflect on something specific for which we are grateful for during our daily routines. She maintains that grateful people tend to be compassionate and curious.
Malin shared that as kindergarteners, her children participated in “K&G”, kind and gentle, doing something thoughtful for a classmate anonymously. “It became a kind of joyful game,” she recalled. “Imagine if we adults did the same.”
Christ’s Church has a new program called the Youth Grantmaking Board, which teaches teens to be curious about local need and to assess the impact of their funding priorities. The hope is that they will improve as partners in bringing about change for good.
Malin urges all of us to treat our neighbors in a loving way. “The Bible’s command to love your neighbor as yourself is not an emotional love but an active love that can be just as transformative, just as addictive as the divisive rhetoric currently dominating the media.”
People may feel moved to address the immediate needs of the hungry and impoverished or may feel compelled to address issues of systemic poverty by advocating for the most vulnerable.
“Follow your impulse, and then follow along with someone you know who serves at a food pantry, or sorts donated winter coats, or is passionate about a local nonprofit,” she offered.
“The most effective expressions of loving kindness are mutual. Our openness to others’ needs puts us in touch with our own needs, which is how we grow.”
For Reverends John Miller and Dan Love, who serve as co-pastors of Rye Presbyterian Church, “Thanksgiving is a lovely time of year, and without a scheduled worship service that day, it is one that we clergy particularly enjoy. It is the brief pause before the plunge into the Advent and Christmas season – a time to gather with loved ones, to reflect on life, and, even amid the many challenges, to give thanks for the ways we have been blessed.
“Yet, while important and healthy, simply cultivating an internal sense of gratitude may not capture the full spirit of the day. Words of thanks are to be given. Whether to God, or to those in our lives who have been the means of blessing, gratitude moves toward its fullness when we complete the circle and say, ‘Thank you’.
“Even then, we are not yet done. Generosity does not end with gratitude expressed, but with generosity passing through us to others, particularly those in need. This idea is at the center of our thinking at Rye Presbyterian this season: <‘Enriched for generosity on every occasion’> — based on 2 Corinthians 9:11-12. Many are the reasons for gratitude in this community, and many are the occasions for generosity that are there for us to step into.
“Beyond our own walls, RPC partners with many others who extend generosity to those in need: Carver Center, Meals on Main Street, Bread of Life, and the Jay Heritage Center to name but a few. All of them, and the many they serve, would welcome your generosity.
“In addition, beyond our checkbooks and Venmo accounts, occasions for generosity come to us all every day. From the parking lot of CVS to the new neighbor on the street to the people working at the stores in which we shop, occasions for grateful generosity abound. Imagine what the world might be like if we all made the most of those occasions for grateful generosity.”
Rabbi Daniel B. Gropper, the spiritual leader of Community Synagogue of Rye believes that “The heart of Judaism is gratitude. We are commanded to sing 100 Blessings every day in celebration of the bounty we have. At the same time, we remain patently aware of what some people lack; they may be suffering from physical ailments or experiencing spiritual crises, are hungry.
“By counting our blessings, we share with others. Leviticus says, ‘…do not reap to the very edges of your field and gather the gleanings of your harvest, for the poor and the foreigner residing among you…’ In this way, those who are in need can feel a sense of dignity and fend for themselves.”
Monsignor Donald M. Dwyer, who has been at Church of Resurrection for 11 years, reflected on the many Thanksgiving Days spent with family and gathered in houses of prayer.
“For this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for the gift of life, for health, for safety, for blessings of family, and for the goodness of friends. We thank the Lord for food to eat, for places to live, for a country pledged to liberty and justice,” he said. “It is fitting that we acknowledge Thanksgiving Day in the Presence of the Lord from whom all the blessings flow.”
He feels that sometimes we need a day such as this holiday to remember all those who yearn for food, shelter, and freedom. The Monsignor recalled Pope Francis’ visit to the United States a few years ago. He related how a young man from Rye attended the Pope’s mass at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. “The Georgetown student told me the Pope gave a ‘cool talk’,” he said. “The Pope spoke of a beautiful image to all the college-aged young people.”
He paraphrased the Pope’s homily, “I would like to use this image of a hand. There are five fingers on it and each one is quite different; each one is essential, and their unity makes a hand.”
Msgr. Dwyer explained that it’s important to recognize our differences and to remember we are all united in this world. Through this powerful connection, we can help others by extending a hand of friendship and peace.
“Above all, a hand must not be used to make a fist for harm and violence. As Pope Francis said, ‘What can be more beautiful than a hand outstretched to all in peace?’” said Msgr. Dwyer, who encourages us to pray for peace.
“I am especially grateful for the powerful example of our older parishioners, the dedication of husbands and wives, the exuberance of teenagers and children, and the beautiful voices of the babies who show us that God has not given up His world. God bless you.”