Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 48
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
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Princeton Community Celebrates Season With Words and Music of Thanksgiving

Ellen Gilbert

Princeton’s Community Thanksgiving Service last Thursday morning was highlighted by speakers and musical selections representing a wide range of local institutions.

Sponsored by the Princeton Clergy Association, the compelling service was held at the Princeton University Chapel, where participants of all ages and backgrounds, many bringing non-perishable food items for the Crisis ministry food pantries in Princeton and Trenton, came together in prayer and song.

After welcoming words from Rev. David Davis of the Nassau Presbyterian Church, Township Mayor Bernie Miller read a Presidential Proclamation from President Obama: “What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities nearly four centuries ago has become our cherished tradition of Thanksgiving. This day’s roots are intertwined with those of our Nation, and its history traces the American narrative.”

With the grace of a ballet dancer, Hyosang Park rang handbells to Akiko Hosaki’s piano accompaniment of the “Meditation” from Thais. The pair appeared again later in the program, playing, appropriately, “Grazioso.”

Other participants in the hour-and-half long service included Mary Julia Kephart of the Christian Science Society of Lawrenceville, who gave the Call to Worship, and Stuart Country Day School Chaplain Patrick Connor, who offered the Prayer for the Day. The Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church Men’s Chorus, under the direction of Lydie Dews, sang “Abundantly Blessed,” and Cantor Murray E. Simon sang Psalm 100 (“A Psalm of Thanksgiving”) following Rabbi Adam Feldman’s “Thanksgiving Reflection.”

Imam Sohaib N. Sultan, Princeton University Muslim Life Coordinator and Chaplain offered another “Thanksgiving Reflection” on Chapter 16, Verse 18 from the Qur’an: “If you tried to number God’s blessings, you could never count them. God is ever-forgiving, most merciful.”

A third Thanksgiving Reflection, from Rev. Muriel Burrows of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, took its theme from Philippians: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication… with thanksgiving… let your requests be made known to God.”

Rev. Jarrett Kerbel led participants in reading a “Thanksgiving Litany,” and everyone joined in the hymn, “We Gather Together.” Dean of Religious Life and Chapel Rev. Alison Boden led “Prayers of the People,” calling on God to “sustain those who seek to alleviate the pain and suffering of this world,” by giving “strength, courage, wisdom and knowledge to all doctors and orderlies, nurses and clerks, psychiatrists, researchers, and all other medical care givers, volunteers, and professionals.”

Maria Potts provided another musical interlude with a “Liturgical Dance” during the Offertory, and Lieutenant Colonel, Civil Air Patrol Chaplain (Ret.) Wayne G. Fox concluded the service with “A Prayer of Thanks,” expressing the hope that “the author and giver of all good things,” would “make us wise for a right use of these gifts.”

With that, those assembled emerged from the Chapel into the bright autumn sunshine of Thanksgiving Day, 2009.

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