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KEEPING THE FAITH | On giving thanks, feasting and fasting this week

As we continue to recover from an exhausting election cycle and grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, this upcoming holy day season of Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to reflect upon and bless God for His keeping power!
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

While I appreciate contemporary praise and worship music, I must admit my affinity for the accumulative narrative of hymns. 

Each stanza seems to build upon the preceding verse. I like to think of these classic standards as poetry with a melody. In times like today, the majestic nature of God as expressed in “How Great Thou Art” resonates hope, peace and trust.

Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

As we continue to recover from an exhausting election cycle and grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, this upcoming holy day season of Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to reflect upon and bless God for His keeping power! 

Respectfully, I would hope you do not equate the occasion as “turkey day” or justification for gluttony, as the focus should be upon God who has sustained us in 2020 through adversities seen and unseen. 

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

My wife cherishes a collection of several ceramic serving bowls and a small cooking pot.  These items do not match the décor of our kitchen or formal dining area. In fact, they don’t even complement each other in appearance. 

Yet, they are an integral part of our gatherings. 

These items once belonged to her beloved mother. I have personally witnessed her mother’s loving ability to prepare and host a banquet. While my wife has embraced and captured her mother’s culinary abilities, the bowls and pots she uses don’t just serve amazing dishes, they beatify memories of others no longer at the table with us.   

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin.

It is my hope you will consider small intimate and meaningful gatherings that are limited to your immediate household. Distance traveling is also not recommended at this time due to the escalating widespread surge of coronavirus cases. Consider using technology, such as Zoom, to establish a connection with family and friends. 

At the end of the day, we are all being reminded, what really should mean the most is that our loved ones are safe, you have done your best humanly possible and you are grateful for what you have.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And then proclaim, "My God, how great Thou art!"

While nothing is new under the sun, there are some things new to you and me. The word “pandemic” was not a regular part of my vocabulary until this year.  In these unprecedented times, many await in angst for the next proverbial shoe to drop! We cannot live and be healthy with such a dire view. 

While feasting is often associated with Thanksgiving, we should also commit to fasting as well. Instead of listening to the “breaking news” which only breaks our spirit, let’s turn off the media! The sacred text reminds us that some things will only depart by the means of fasting and prayer. We need a season where we come together, pray and fast and hope that God delivers us as a nation. As the chorus declares:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

A Community Holy Day Gathering: The Mahoning Valley Association of Churches Board invites the community to the Mayors' Interfaith Virtual Prayer on Tuesday from 7:30-8 a.m. To accept this invitation, respond by email to with a request for the Zoom link. Virtual seats are limited and participants are welcome at no charge. 

Thirty-five years ago, the late Mrs. Edna D. Pincham introduced this community mainstay while serving as the administrative assistant to the late honorable Mayor Patrick J. Ungaro.  A great woman of faith and prayer, Mrs. Pincham shared her passion with MVAC to host an annual interfaith prayer breakfast. She recognized that the shared tenants of faith brought diversity and strength to our community for the greater good. 

She envisioned the mayors, their administrations, business, civic and faith leaders of the valley coming together for ecumenical celebration and giving thanks to God. 

The Zoom gathering affords an opportunity for local political officials and other people of faith to gather and pray together before Thanksgiving in lieu of the Mayors' Prayer Breakfast canceled due to COVID precautions. 

The Mayors' Interfaith Virtual Prayer will feature a reflection by the honorable Mayor Doug Franklin of Warren; musical performance by Jason Volovar; and interfaith prayers from within the community. Dr.  Thomas D. Sauline serves as the executive of MVAC and The Rev. Theodore A. Brown, Jr. is the organization’s president. 

May this Thanksgiving remind each of us of this holy day’s purpose when it was established in our country. Local philanthropist, Eleanor Watankunakorn, once shared a profound thought she acquired and attributed to her personal journey that required detours along the way, "Keep your heart free from hate and your mind free from worry. Live simple, expect little and give much” 

Let’s approach this upcoming national observance of thanks with grateful hearts and continue to resolve to keep the faith!

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department and local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise