The back story is this…this picture was taken by the Reverend Hannah Atkins, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston. We were sitting in the pews in the midst of the Thanksgiving service at Trinity for Lord of the Streets (LOTS) Episcopal Church. My husband is the vicar at LOTS, a congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas that serves Houston’s homeless population. LOTS has a weekly Eucharist at 7:00 am each Sunday that is attended by almost 300 homeless men and women. Trinity Church hosts the Sunday Eucharist each week. This service was a special observance of Thanksgiving last Wednesday morning.
So, my husband and Bishop Andy Doyle and Fr. Michael Roeske were vested and at the altar. Hannah and I sat in the pews among the congregation. At the offertory, the soloist was singing “Give Thanks” by Don Moen…”and now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich…” A few of the participants in the pews began to raise their arms and wave them. We sat in the very midst of God’s daughters and sons, those who had slept in shelters and on sidewalks the night before, those who carried all they owned in plastic or paper bags. We sat in the midst of those who were sick, those who were frightened, those who were faithful. “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One…”
And then the soloist proclaimed “Raise your hand if you are thankful” and my arm shot up. Hannah’s arm shot up. All around us, arms shot up. All the people in the pews, all the people serving. A church full of arms in the air.
And what was left, except to say thank you. Thank you for life, thank you for health, thank you for food, thank you for our beautiful earth, thank you for love, thank you for calling us all to care for each other.
May we lift our hands and our hearts today. Advent begins now. We wait for the light. Grace is all around us…may we wait in peace and in joy, with thankful hearts.