The same goes for communities. What is a community, after all, if not a collection, a system, of relationships?
The Thanksgiving season is a time to be intentional about naming that for which we are grateful, whether as individuals, families, communities or a nation.
Tupelo’s annual Community Thanksgiving Service for decades has been about intentionally tending to the diverse relationships that make up the community. Since its first manifestation in the 1960s and its rebirth in the late 1970s during a period of racial tensions, the service has brought together people of different races, faith traditions and economic backgrounds to recognize and celebrate the common bonds they share. It’s an occasion of intentionality, of gathering in a spirit of unity and fellowship.
This year’s service is today at noon at St. Paul United Methodist Church. It will last about an hour and be followed by light refreshments and an opportunity for people to visit.
It’s a small thing, yes, but a sense of community that transcends the usual divisions is built more on the accumulation of small gestures and interactions than on any great sweeping events, actions or pronouncements.
Healthy communities also tend to their relationships with those in need. People who have are intentional about providing, out of their own abundance, for those who don’t. That’s just what good communities do.
The Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving Day dinner is an example of this. Every year the Army serves a Thanksgiving meal to anyone who comes, another small but significant gesture that strengthens the bonds of community.
So, too, it is with the local church food banks and feeding programs that express their thanks for God’s bounty by attempting to make sure that no one in the community goes hungry.
In these various ways on display this Thanksgiving week, Tupelo and many communities across this region, state and nation will in very intentional ways nurture and strengthen their ties. In so doing, those communities are made stronger and healthier for everyone.