Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

Contrary to popular belief, the first official Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1863, after a proclamation by then-President Abraham Lincoln. While the country was torn apart by the Civil War, he agreed with Thanksgiving Day proponent Sarah Hale (probably most famous as the author of "Mary had a Little Lamb") that the establishment of a day to recognize our blessings and express our gratitude to the "Giver of all Good Gifts" would bring unity to the war-torn United States. Below is a section of his proclamation, and may it be our hope that during days of division or suffering or economic troubles, we can echo Lincoln's prayer for the "Almighty hand to heal the wounds" of our nation.

"...the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed."
Done at the city of Washington this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What is a blessing?

At last night's Bible study, someone brought up the idea of what a blessing looks like and how our view of a "blessing" can be very different than God's view. The conversation brought to mind a recent interview with a guest at our women and children's shelter, whose story will be featured in our December newsletter (yes, we're working on the December newsletter already :). As we approach the holiday created for the sole purpose of expressing thanks for the blessings we've been given, it's good to keep in mind that sometimes God's blessings are the prize at the end of a tortuous marathon, and sometimes God brings us outside our comfort zone to enable us to be a blessing to others.
Occasionally, our guests will ask a question that I can't answer. The kind of question you ask yourself when you're trying to think your way around a difficulty. This guest asked me if I would be willing to step into her shoes and lose everything if it meant gaining the blessing of having settled the question of faith. She has no choice now but to rely on God. Her own efforts have only led to homelessness and despair. But the prize: she has cleared away the "white noise" and now knows with a certainty where she stands with her Savior and how much her weakness is strength when it is resting in Him. She believes that God brought her to the Mission for her safety and spiritual growth. And her blessing.
Now, if you want to read the rest of her story, check your mailboxes (either in life or online) in December or sign up to receive our newsletter through our website at

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How much is your time worth?>
Time is one commodity we can never get back, but just how much is your time worth? For the Mission, five minutes of your time, from now until the end of December, is worth quite a lot. $10,000, to be precise. Right now, you can click on this link, sign in to facebook, and vote for the Mission to receive $10,000 as part of Summit Community Bank's giveaway in honor of their 10th anniversary. So, $10,000 is a lot of money, but if you think of value in more important terms... That's nearly 5,000 meals or shelter for about 500 people (broken down to regular statistics that's 200 men and 300 women and children). So, while you're shopping online or checking out a friend's status update, just ask yourself, what is five minutes worth to you?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lansing's "Best Kept Secret"

Early this morning, I was driving my car north on Larch and had the opportunity to pass the Mission on Michigan Avenue. The sky was a mix of colors, starting at almost gold where the rising sun was mixing with the lights of the city and slowing fading into a deep midnight of a cloudy night taking it's time rolling up for another day. I knew that as I drove over the Michigan Avenue intersection, I'd be able to glance to my right and see the light of the Mission "Jesus Saves" sign blending into the lights of a city rousing itself to face the morning. It was beautiful and reassuring to know that the Mission has been there, steady and unwavering, for 100 years. And that for about seven decades the cross has also been there, shining the light of hope into the dark places of our community.

As I was mulling over these feelings, I remembered the words of a guest with whom I'd recently had the opportunity to talk. She had come to the Mission after losing a great job and a wonderful home. Never having known poverty or want, before now, she'd also never known of the Mission. Seeing the surprise on my face, she admitted that she'd only lived in the area ten years.

Ten years! And never knew of the Mission until drastic circumstances had brought her within hours of living on the streets. The Mission truly is what our executive director recently described as "the best kept secret in Lansing. And it shouldn't be."

It should not be. For 100 years, we've been providing food, shelter, and hope to men, women, and children in Michigan's capital area. We're not funded by the state or federal government. We really do survive on faith and the gifts of those who do know about the Mission and who help us help others. Are you a Rescuer? If you are, don't "keep it under your hat." Not only can you encourage others to become involved but you can make someone aware of a place of refuge and safety. A place of shelter and rescue.

The guest to whom I was speaking? She was contemplating the final act of taking her own life when faced with the "inevitability" of sleeping on the streets. She was terrified of what would happen to her. She was ashamed of her "failure" and angry with God. The last minute encouragement of someone from her church, who told her about the Mission, changed the course of her life.

So spread the news: there is a place to find "rescue" in our community! The City Rescue Mission of Lansing.