Monday night’s Interfaith Thanksgiving service was beautiful. It was truly wonderful for members of different faith communities to come together to express our gratitude to God.
It made no difference how we looked or how we offered our prayers. For we, along with the assembled congregation, were united in our intent: to acknowledge God’s presence and our thankfulness for all the blessings in our lives.
Near the beginning of the service, elected officials from the Tri-Cities offered their greetings. I found the address by Rick Jones, Vice Mayor of Fremont, to be quite moving. He said:
“These last few weeks have been very trying for some as we worry about what changes may occur as a result of the national election. I am saddened to see and hear the fear from our residents as they struggle to understand the reasoning behind some of the rhetoric, and what effect it may have on them. One of Fremont’s best qualities is the diversity of our residents. People come here from all over the world in an effort to make a better life for themselves and their children. We have residents from every part of the globe who celebrate many different faiths. To have those residents live in fear of intolerant people who threaten their beliefs and their way of life is not acceptable. We need to come together as a community and embrace those who have immigrated here, just as many of our ancestors immigrated here. We need to remember that this country was built on the backs of immigrants who came here for a better life.
Too many are quick to judge others as ‘inferior’ or ‘threatening’ based on the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or their way of life because of the actions of those who have twisted the meaning of peaceful religious teachings into a call for hate and violence. Others are targeted based on their sexual orientation. Racism, bigotry, homophobia - ugly words - but these are all issues that some members of our community have to deal with every day and that’s not OK. What message are we sending our children, our future generations, if we choose to look the other way and allow these things to happen. It’s human nature to fear things we do not understand, but to fear another person or group of people because they are different than you? Take the time to meet and talk to your neighbors, your co-workers. You may find that you have a lot more in common than you think. Don’t we all want the same things out of life? Love, friendship, happiness, peace.
Fremont is a compassionate city and we need to stand together as one community. Your presence here tonight shows that we will not tolerate hate or violence directed at anyone in our diverse community. The message we all share tonight is one of hope. Now, more than ever, we must remain ‘Fremont Strong’.”
During this Thanksgiving weekend, may we all recognize the essential unity of all humankind. We are all children of God. May your weekend be filled with joyful gratitude for all that is good in life.