In Theory: Reasons to give thanks

Q: Thanksgiving is around the corner. What's happened over the past year that you're grateful for?

The field of poppies that bloomed by surprise in our backyard last spring; the look on my 18-month-old granddaughter's face when she tasted a canned mandarin orange for the first time and discovered she could eat her favorite color; how often you can look up into the sky here and see hawks fly; those mechanical pencils you never have to sharpen; the way my husband's eyes so clearly express his inner child; the magnificent efficiency of;

Breakthroughs in learning, and plateaus too I guess, and for that matter all the ways that at my age I'm still learning so much every day about everything; and also the ways that pretty much anyone can be your teacher if you listen; and how you can look up absolutely anything on the Internet and find the answer;

A neighbor who plays loud music we happen to love; oh and Pandora, and family dance parties; and the way I get to sing songs with people every week as part of my job; and also just listening to breezes and rain patters and silence;

Grown-ups who still remember the name of every Crayola crayon in the box; those extra-large containers of blueberries from Trader Joe's; seeing the mountains every single day; Vroman's bookstore, and those laminated tags with staff recommendations, and going there and then going across the street to Target; 292 days of sun a year; moonlight on rocks, and stars, and the rustling peace of night; the way a bird can sit totally at ease on the tiniest twig at the tip of a branch;

How much more women can do now than they could 50 years ago; and how many men I know who are the primary cooks of the family; and the way you don't have to keep the challenges and truths of your life a secret anymore if you don't want to;

Poetry, oolong tea, comfortable shoes, beeswax candles, the “undo” button, fresh sheets, sliced bread of course, naps on the couch, heated car seats, walking, breathing …

And a bunch of other stuff too.

The Rev. Amy Pringle
St. George's Episcopal Church
La Cañada Flintridge


Several events this year make me grateful, with bad news along with the good however.

I rejoice that our country turned away from military intervention in Syria and that we haven't bombed Iran yet, but the war over Syria rages and spreads and the Middle East is a perilous mess.

I am glad that our newest Glendale City Council member apologized, and seems determined to live down his unfortunate past words. He recently participated in an interfaith dinner dialogue organized by the Glendale Human Relations Coalition, an ongoing effort to promote better understanding among diverse groups within our community.

But the bad news is that the councilman and a citizen took part in a shouting match at a recent City Council meeting, deplorable behavior by both and the sort of yuckiness which contributes to these meetings being off-putting.

I am very proud of Glendale for forthrightly, sensitively and creatively acknowledging history with the comfort-woman statue in Central Park and I'm gratified that most Glendalians are not giving any oxygen to the sad little flame of those denying the reality of both Asian history and of a majority City Council vote.

But the bad news is that the atrocities just keep on coming.

Endlessly recalling past tragedies would cover our parks with stone.

Let's honor history with peace and justice for the living, for which we can all be truly thankful.

Roberta Medford

I am thankful for many things. Even though Obamacare still faces some very large hurdles, I am thankful that the Affordable Care Act is still very much alive. I believe it has been mightily challenged by technical glitches and perhaps even lack of preparation, but I believe that if everyone continues to ferret out and refine the process it can be salvaged and even made stronger and more efficient.

I am thankful that more and more states are embracing the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage is above all, a legal institution. Marriage entitles couples to privileges and financial benefits that are not included in living together or even being legally declared domestic partners. Consenting adults who want to be married and enjoy the same benefits as others who happened to be born of a certain orientation should have that opportunity and freedom.

Much, much closer to home, I am extremely thankful that the congregation of Little White Chapel, the congregation that I pastor, has added a second service that takes place at 5 p.m. every Saturday in the original chapel. In this lively interactive service we use both the sermon time and the prayer preparation time to unpack and explore the full range of our ideas and beliefs as a blessed and accepted part of the family of God.

The Rev. Dr. William Thomas Jr.
Little White Chapel


I am grateful to God for his continued faithfulness to us all. Personally, he has provided what my family and I have needed in a stressful and unexpected move to a different home. Many friends were there to help us, and each was a gift of God to us.

God has continued to show patience and mercy with us in spite of our shortcomings. Just today I read in Scripture that in Jesus Christ “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). I suppose I'm really most grateful that God hasn't changed. He never will. “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” says God in Malachi 3:6. “This I recall to my mind,” said Jeremiah, “therefore I have hope. The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

Pastor Jon Barta
Valley Baptist Church

Please don't think I'm kissing up to those who employ me, but I am thankful for the generosity of my congregation, and their marvelous spirit of volunteerism. Is every single person who attends my church perfect? Of course not. In any orchard you'll find some bad apples. The same with any group of people, even in a church —maybe especially in a church. Nobody's perfect, and as I saw on a bumper sticker one time, “Christians aren't perfect — just forgiven.”

I mentioned generosity. Members of my congregation continue to bring food items that some other members then take to a food bank, and we have been doing this for the better part of three years. With the disastrous typhoon in the Philippines, our church donated $1,500 to the cause last Sunday, and we'll take up another collection for Asian victims this coming Sunday. One of our members even stood up in church to urge that we give $10,000 as a congregation. That's a lot of money to get out of 115 people or so, but again, the generosity of these people moves me greatly.

And now for something totally different: I am also thankful that the U.S. Government didn't default on its debts a month or two ago. I know we'll face a brink again in the new year, and maybe cooler heads will not prevail. But I am thankful that in 2013 our people in Congress allowed Uncle Sam to pay his bills.

And now for the names of the bad apples that I mentioned above, in alphabetical order: Just kidding! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and, as Psalm 100 says, “Be thankful unto him, and bless his name, for the Lord is gracious.”

The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church
La Cañada Flintridge--

I had nothing especially unusual happen to me in 2013. I'm grateful to have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, a meaningful job and two good kids. My church is chugging along after seven years of my having served there as pastor, and we have high hopes for the future. We've had more visitors this year, thanks in part to my In Theory responses, and our hope is that more will desire to stay and serve God in this church rather than just pop in for a single “howdy” and then vamanos. God only knows.

I was blessed to be sent to Minnesota for a denominational conference that let me see some new things in that state, and I won an Oktoberfest stein-holding contest in our nearby mountains that made me feel pretty good. I was assaulted by some animal rights fanatics in Tujunga who broke my nose for tethering my dog at a restaurant while I ate dinner with my church men's group, but I can still get air through my impaired sinuses. God was aware all this would happen, and I still write here, and live well enough to expect a similar outcome in 2014 if asked again.

The Bible says that “in the last days. People will be…ungrateful” (2Ti 3:1-2). I hope never to be numbered in that group. No matter what comes, I hope to remain grateful and thankful to Jesus, and stimulate those around me to appreciate the King of my life. I'm grateful that I have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving, and I look forward to conclude this year with Christmas. God is good! And the church responds, “All the time!”

The Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church

The holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It's a time for family gatherings, repeating traditions and collectively looking back over the past year's joys, triumphs and challenges. For our family it is always a special time of Thanksgiving to the Lord for all his incredible gifts to us.

This past year has opened many new opportunities in our ministry here locally and also overseas. But when asked what I am most grateful for over the last year, I must honestly admit that five events immediately come to mind, and they are all personal and family related.

My second grandchild, Anabelle, was born on Jan. 25. My grandmother celebrated her centennial birthday, and most of the family was able to attend her birthday party in Korea. Our youngest daughter, Mary graduated with her master's degree from Pepperdine in April. We were so proud of her achievement, and so glad to have our last child complete her college education! My wife and I celebrated our 34th anniversary this year, and our son, Gabriel, became engaged to his wonderful fiancé, Monica Chang, on Oct. 30.

I am so grateful for my wonderful family and the way they continue to fill and enrich my life over the years. I look forward to many more years of Thanksgiving memories with them. I can't imagine anything the Lord could give me that would bless me more.

Pastor Ché Ahn
HRock Church

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