Giving of Thanks by Pastor Mohanan (Moh) Unni at SCI's 15th Anniversary Celebration

Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome!

 

My name is Pastor Mohanan Unni, and I serve at the Shepherd’s House in Woburn. The organizing and planning committee of SCI requested that I say a few words on “Thanksgiving.” Before we eat supper, I would like us to take a couple of minutes to reflect on “inclusiveness” of our American Thanksgiving.

 

Our country is made up Native Americans and immigrants from every corner of the world. Our American Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate how we’ve come together as a nation, but it is also the perfect opportunity to honor where each of us comes from. As our country becomes more blended and more diverse, it is important to recognize how our unique cultures add to the spirit and strength of the whole United States.

 

History tells us that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, after the harvest, after much pain and suffering. The event lasted for three days, with nearly twice as many Native Americans as Pilgrims in attendance (90 Native Americans versus 53 Pilgrims). We must remember that the genesis of our American Thanksgiving was an event anchored in “Diversity and Inclusion.” Different races came together.

 

Our American history also teaches us that spirit of diversity and inclusion is subject to entropy. History shows us we are subject to gradual decline into disorder. Humans are inherently tribal. The human survival instinct drives us to protect our property and our politics. But thanksgiving is the very antidote for that entropy into dysfunction and disorder. Communal celebrations of thanksgiving have a humanizing effect on us.

 

The Harvard Medical School in an article published in 2011 called, “In Praise of Gratitude,” states that living a life of thanksgiving and gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

 

Thanksgiving is our time to reclaim the great American value of “inclusiveness” – one nation under God with liberty and justice for ALL. Thankfulness for the land and community we live in, and for different communities of the world we represent. Our differences working together can and will make us stronger.

 

I remember the day I took my oath to become a citizen of these United States. We swore our oath before the Great Seal of our Nation. It was one of the most holy moments of my life. In the Great Seal of the United States, clenched in the eagle’s beak is a scroll that contains the Latin phrase, E pluribus unum, which means “Out of many, One!”


That’s who we are – E pluribus unum. This is our national DNA. It is who we are as citizens of this nation. We can be stronger if we can get beyond our differences to work together.

 

How can we embrace this value, E pluribus unum, “Out of many, One” in our daily lives?

 

To do that, I would like you all to say a Sanskrit word with me.

 

In India, when we meet a person we greet them by saying “Namaste” to them.

 

Can you please say Namaste to the neighbor to your right and to your left? Would you kindly say Namaste to them?

 

Some of you may already know the meaning of the word “Namaste.

 

It is more than a “Hello.” In Sanskrit, the word Namaste means the “Divine in me respects and acknowledges the divine in you – my neighbor!” Each one of us, no matter where we come from are special.

 

Human DNA behavior is inherently tribal, and self-centered for survival. However, if we can see the divine and special dignity in someone who is altogether different than us, and honor the divine in someone who of a different color, race, and religion than us, we can begin to love the God of all humanity as we love my neighbor as myself. We become stronger as we embrace our difference, go beyond our differences and strive to work together for liberty and justice for all.

 

This can move us to care for the needs of the poor, the immigrants, the orphans, the single parents, and the downtrodden. E pluribus unum, “Out of many, One!” The many helping the one-another. So, we give thanks, I say Namaste to you.

 

I acknowledge the divine in you.

“May the LORD bless you and keep you;

May the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you Shalom.”’

(Numbers 6:24-26) Thank You!

 

Reference: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude