Dear friends,

This week Emmaus House has been distributing bags full of the ingredients for Thanksgiving side dishes to those who live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city (they also are receiving turkeys). Their goal was to distribute bags to 200 families. St. Dunstan’s contributed 57 of those bags (our goal was 50). I am so grateful for the generosity of this parish. Our small band of the faithful does more than some churches many times our size. Thanks to all of you who helped.

Now I am asking for you to help again. Christmas is right around the corner. We have volunteered to provide Christmas for three families through Solidarity Sandy Springs, the food pantry that opened during the pandemic that now also provides many other services to the Hispanic community in Sandy Springs. Below is a link to a SignUp Genius that shows exactly what is needed. Gifts need to be at the church no later than Friday, December 8.

We also are helping our refugee family from Myanmar set up their household. There is also a SignUp Genius for that. The links are below. We also have a link to a signup for all the Altar Guild needs through the holiday season.

I am in the process of working with our web designer to update our website. One of the new things is a tab for volunteer sign ups. The links below are listed there. Other things will be listed as the needs arise. If you haven’t been to our website in a while take a look. Most of the people who walk through our doors for the first time do so because they have found our site online. There are a few more changes coming soon:

Here are the other links!

And finally, I have pasted below writer Anne Lamott’s annual piece on giving thanks. Her writing always resonates with me and I hope it will with you, too.

With love,


Here is my annual Thanksgiving piece, on why we say Grace: By Anne Lamont

We didn’t say grace at our house when I was growing up because my parents were atheists. I knew even as a little girl that everyone at every table needed blessings and encouragement, but my family didn’t ask for it. Instead, my parents raised glasses of wine to the chef: Cheers. Dig in. But I had a terrible secret, which was that I believed in God, a divine presence who heard me when I prayed, who stayed close to me in the dark. So at six years old I began to infiltrate religious families like a spy—Mata Hari in plaid sneakers.

One of my best friends was a Catholic girl. Her boisterous family bowed its collective head and said, “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. …” I was so hungry for these words; it was like a cool breeze, a polite thank-you note to God, the silky magnetic energy of gratitude. I still love that line.

I believed that if your family said grace, it meant you were a happy family, all evidence to the contrary. But I saw at certain tables that an improvised grace could cause friction or discomfort. My friend Mark reports that at his big southern childhood Thanksgivings, someone always managed to say something that made poor Granny feel half dead. “It would be along the lines of ‘And Lord, we are just glad you have seen fit to keep Mama with us for one more year.’ We would all strain to see Granny giving him the fisheye.”

I noticed some families shortened the pro forma blessing so they could get right to the meal. If there were more males than females, it was a boy- chant, said as one word: “GodisgreatGodisgoodletusthankHimforourfoodAmen.” I also noticed that grace usually wasn’t said if the kids were eating in front of the TV, as if God refused to listen over the sound of it.

And we’ve all been held hostage by grace sayers who use the opportunity to work the room, like the Church Lady. But more often, people simply say thank you—we understand how far short we must fall, how selfish we can be, how self-righteous, what brats. And yet God has given us this marvelous meal.

It turns out that my two brothers and I all grew up to be middle-aged believers. I’ve been a member of the same Presbyterian church for 36 years. My older brother became a born-again Christian—but don’t ask him to give the blessing, as it can last forever. I adore him, but your food will grow cold. My younger brother is an unconfirmed but freelance Catholic.

So now someone at our holiday tables always ends up saying grace. I think we’re in it for the pause, the quiet thanks for love and for our blessings, before the shoveling begins. For a minute, our stations are tuned to a broader, richer radius. We’re acknowledging that this food didn’t just magically appear: Someone grew it, ground it, bought it, baked it; wow.

We say thank you for the miracle that we have stuck together all these years, in spite of it all; that we have each other’s backs, and hilarious companionship. We say thank you for the plentiful and outrageous food: Kathy’s lox, Robby’s heartbreaking gravy. We pray to be mindful of the needs of others. We savor these moments out of time, when we are conscious of love’s presence, of Someone’s great abiding generosity to our dear and motley family, these holy moments of gratitude. And that is grace.

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