Season After Pentecost: Thanksgiving 2016 – Moving from one season to the next

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (John 6:25)

I am breaking with tradition and writing this on the eve of Thanksgiving. I have completed all the advance preparations – that is, the household is as clean as it going to get for tomorrow and the pies are baked. It is late; in fact, if I post this when I am done writing it, it will appear at the usual time for this blog posts.

I chose to write on the eve of because I wanted it to be as up-to-date and relevant as possible. Thanksgiving is a time of advance thinking and last minute preparation – feast advice notwithstanding!

“Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” (Verses 26 – 27)

I did not, however, do any pre-thinking or planning as to what I was going to say/write, other than determining the order I am going to list/address the scripture passages that the Revised Common Lectionary has for this Thanksgiving season. It seemed to me to be good to think first about what Jesus said about food and spiritual food – seeing as tomorrow will be a day of fooding!

Whether your Thanksgiving planning was done weeks or months ago, or like me this year who did all the planning and shopping very last minute, the food of tomorrow will not last much longer than the day – leftovers exempted! My point is that what we celebrate with tomorrow will “perish”; but the care and compassion we have for those around the table will endure for our lifetime and beyond. And the spiritual food that the Lord God provides will last from this world into the next.

“Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (Verses 28 – 31)

The food we eat tomorrow will be set in front of us – at least that is true for most of us. While I might have prepared the food for those who gather around my table tomorrow, the acquiring it and preparing it was relatively simple – as if it came down from heaven. I did not have to sacrifice myself for it, nor did it cause me pain and toil (at least not comparatively speaking along side my next comment). But the spiritual food which we partake of comes to us at the cost of Christ’s life. And our partaking of it obligates us to be followers of Christ, which could involve great sacrifice.

“Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Verses 32 – 35)

While we satisfy our hunger Thanksgiving, let us remember that we should not settle for the food that the world gives, but should crave and seek the spiritual food that is promised us by and through our Lord God Jesus Christ!

When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.”
When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.
When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.
The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.” You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.” (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)

Giving thanks for the bounty and abundance that the Lord has given. So we turn from considering spiritual food to the blessings of this life that the Lord has given us. And we remember, or should remember, those who still struggle for sustenance and the simple basics of life. Charity was an important aspect of Jewish life; this verse from Deuteronomy specifically mentions the “aliens” who resided among the chosen people of God. Reminding them that God’s favor does not just rest on them, and that they at one time struggled in their daily lives. Let us be thankful that our struggles are small. And if, beloved reader, your struggles are large, I hope and pray that there are those who reach out the hand of compassion and assistance to you!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

With spiritual food given to us, and blessings and abundance bestowed on us, we have much to be thankful for. What response will we make to the Lord God, and how will we show our praise and appreciation?

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Verses 8 – 9)

As you have been reading, this year Thanksgiving comes within the first week of Advent. The end of the lectionary year is thus intermingled with the beginning of the next lectionary year. Beginnings and endings do sometimes get entangled. Let us not try to untangle them, but reside in the blessings of both. We celebrate what the Lord has done for us this year, and look forward to the blessings of the coming year. Let us rejoice that the Lord is with us and keeps us. And let us draw closed to the Lord so that we might feel that Divine blessing, and share that blessing with others. Selah!

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

Season After Pentecost: Scripture Passages on Canadian Thanksgiving

When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.” (Deuteronomy 26:1-2)

I have many memories of Thanksgiving in Canada. As a child, adolescent, and adult. It was a time to be close to family, to listen to the adults reminisce, and to think back myself over past years. There is a richness of memories and a wealth of warm feelings that are different from U.S. Thanksgiving. A large part of that I am sure is that the burden was never on me to plan or prepare the meal. In that I am indebted to my Canadian family, primarily to my parents, aunts, and uncles that provided for me and for my family when we returned to Ontario for Thanksgiving.

“You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.” (Verses 2 – 5)

Now, as the place of my origin it is not exactly the land “that I have come into” – more the land that I went out from! But the intent is the same – I found blessing and nurture in that land. And each year on Canadian Thanksgiving my heart longs and misses just a bit that past and those memories.

“When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Verses 6 – 9)

The United States has also brought blessing and nurture, and it is now home. May not “a land flowing with milk and honey” but my home with my family. And wherever family is, that is home. And at Thanksgiving time here with my family, there is also a wealth of memories and warm feelings. These at first were gifted to me by my in-laws, but in the fullness of time I took on the burden and responsibility of planning and preparing. First in Indiana, and more completely here in Oregon, it is a celebration of family and providence.

“So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.” You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house. ( Verses 10 – 11)

Our first Thanksgiving here was done with little resources. In fact I remember quite distinctly that I almost ran short of money in its preparation. But each year the abundance has been increased, and I am ever thankful for that!

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalms 100)

But it is not just at Thanksgiving that we should praise God, and give thanks for what has been given to us. And not just material, and edible, possession but all things that have come to us. We are recipients of wondrous things, if we will but stop and think about it.


“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)

All the material things that come to us in this life, both edible and inedible, are transitory and fleeting. The memories I have of Thanksgivings past are not of the food but the people and the interactions. The memories were made of the love and care that was carried out on each occasion. And it is those things that warm my heart and fill me with nostalgia. And have carried me through tough times and tough occasions.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.“ (John 6:25-35)

Those who depend solely on the food of the body and the stomach are destined to hunger/thirst always with a hunger/thirst that cannot be filled or satisfied. Now, we are taking this discussion from the physical to the spiritual. The aromas and tastes of Thanksgiving ground us the world around us, but the Spirit of Thanksgiving is not what our body perceives but what our spirit and soul perceives and experiences. I hope and pray, beloved reader, that in this Thanksgiving season you can make this movement, and experience the satisfaction that the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ can bring. Selah!

Thanksgiving Scriptural Mix – All four scripture types in one day

Today’s verses is what my New Testament seminary professor would call a “rich feast” of scripture. Rather than picking out just one scripture passage from the set of four, I have chosen to use all four, moving from a general theme of thanksgiving to a specific focus of what is, well, the focus of the day.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all

this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-7)

In any given year, whether it be a major election year or an off-year when smaller elections are held, critique and commentary is made. Such-and-such party believes and promotes this while another party zealously supports that; this politician would do one thing and another politician would do that thing. Now, you all know I have no patience or interest in politicians. But what I do appreciate that each of them, in their own way, tries to promote order and a smoothly running country. The Lord knows that I do not strongly feel that anyone of them is suggesting ways and means that I can unabashedly approve of. But I appreciate and am thankful they all, beneath it all, want a smoothly running country, and quiet and peaceable lives for the citizenry. And I can give thanks for that this day.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” (Psalm 126)

I tend to rely on the Lord, and trust that the Lord will provide for me. Yes, there have been lean years, years that I was not sure we would make “ends meet”; and times when the ends did not meet and we had to live in that gap. But the Lord brought us through all that, and here we are where and when the ends not only meet, but sometimes overlap! My tears have turned to shouts of joy, and I “carry home” the sheaves that provide for our family. It is good to recognize and celebrate this at Thanksgiving.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

I will tell you plainly, beloved reader, this year my health has taken a further decline. Food does not hold the same appeal to me as it used to. This is both a sad thing and a good thing. Sad, because . . . well . . . because . . . I remember the times that food has been a comfort and a time of celebration and gathering of family and friends. Food means fellowship and communion with others. And while I enjoy gathering with family and friends, I focus more on just the people around the table than the food that is shared with them. And being the chief cook, my lack of interest in food makes food preparation more of a trial than a joy.

But, I have found new joy in clothing. Being a smaller me means new clothes, color combinations and styles that bring joy to my heart. I feel like a “lily of the field” and truly feel that God has clothed me as such. So that is where my joy lies this year.

Yes, I am going to prepare a full thanksgiving meal; but it will be a gift to my family instead of a time for me to feed my own body. And I am thankful that I can still do that for them.

Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:21-27)

This time of the year – Thanksgiving that leads into Advent and Christmas, and into the New Year – is a time of food and fellowship. That we have both in abundance gives raise to our thanksgiving and praise of and to God. That we have enough food, and family and friends to share it with gives color and meaning to these times. We share with one another, and rejoice that we have much to share and have a share in much. Our Lord God has undertaken for us and has provided for us. Yes, there is want and need. And yes, there may be people who still have want and need. But at this time of the year, folks are more likely to see the need and be moved to fill it. The season itself takes hold and people of all faiths and beliefs come together to give aid to those in need. Love that has its roots in the Christian beliefs Jesus taught seems to come over all people. And that too is worthy of celebration.

May you, beloved reader, feel the care and compassion that finds its beginnings in God’s love for us. May you be the recipient of that love, care and compassion. And may you share that love, care and compassion with others, sharing its abundance to all in need. Selah!

Season After Pentecost – Pausing to give thanks on Canadian Thanksgiving

Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain[a] for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2: 21-27)

It is Thanksgiving in Canada, and the RCL has generously provided a set of scripture passages to celebrate and commemorate the day. I have wonderful memories of Thanksgivings in my growing up years. Food and frolicking fun with cousins when I was young; fine dining and elegant table settings in my teens. This passage from Joel brings those times back to mind.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” (Psalms 126)

I think what I like most about the Thanksgivings of my childhood is that the day felt like a “gift.” After a weekend away from school there was this extra day that came floating down like manna from heaven – only it was turkey flavored and came with stuffing, rolls, and desserts! Responsibilities and obligations were sent aside, and there was a feeling abundance and contentment.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-7)

I think, or at least I hope, I was aware of the blessings and abundance that surrounded me as a child. We did not have a great deal, but we had enough. And I was thankful for the “enough.” I was not very politically aware as a child (and I have tried to recapture that “innocence” as an adult) and did think much beyond my parents and the church as authority figures. And I did live a peaceful life as a child, adolescent angst aside.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

There is a “magic” to Thanksgiving, regardless (and whenever) it is celebrated. Aside from the worrying about preparing the turkey and other food, Thanksgiving means a setting aside of worry. As long as you are thankful for what you have, there is nothing more that you have to do or be worried about. I have had Thanksgiving that were fully and completely abundant, and Thanksgivings that were sparse and on a shoestring. But the important elements of family, love and joy were always there. And those were the things I gave thanks for the most.

May you, beloved reader, give thanks for the things in your life, and may our Lord God supply to you the things that you need. Selah!

QUIET AND PEACEABLE LIFE . . . . By praying for all the ya-whoos and you know who’s!

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone … so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” (I Timothy 2:1, 2b from I Timothy 2: 1-15 )

It is said, in the deep south, you can say just about anything about almost anyone as long as you end it with “bless their hearts!” I don’t know if it is true, but I imagine it has been tried many a time. The idea is, I imagine, that as frustrating or sneaky or evil or shameful or anything else a person is accused of being, they are not considered to be outside of God’s care and compassion.

I can almost imagine a deep south version of Paul using this type of “theology.” I will admit to using it once or twice (or more) myself. But in this passage Paul goes on to spout some theology that I am not overly fond of (in fact I can get pretty peeved at Paul for what he said . . . bless his heart! [grin]) But this first part, wanting everyone to pray, that is good.

And Paul is not repeating himself when he lists off supplications as being different from prayers, and that intercessions and thanksgivings are distinct too. Supplications and petitions are very similar, specifically asking God to do something new. And intercession is more of a request to change something is happening and will happen in the near future, and without God interceding the outcome may be very unfavorable. Thanksgiving is the same thing as praise, giving recognition for something that God has done – whether through a direct intercession or arranging of events or outcomes that are desired. Yes, Paul has made a pretty complete list of the types of prayer.

But I do not want any gentle reader to think that there will not be times of disquiet and unrest, and that godliness and dignity are unquestionable outcome. Because sometimes the answer to pray – supplication and intercession – is “no”. We live in a world that has much noise and at times little peace. And godliness and dignity are rare commodities in some places. This does not mean though that we should not give thanks and praise God. For if there is noise and unrest – a lack of peace, godliness, and dignity – it is not because God has abandoned us, but that the rest of the world does not work towards it and hold it as important. If all people throughout the world -without exception – would pray for all the good things Paul recommends, there would be a world that reflects God’s nature. But the world is not like that – bless it’s heart!

May you gentle reader offer up all types of prayer to our Lord, and may you find godliness and dignity around you. Selah! And may your heart be blessed this day!

CELEBRATE BOUNTY – With everyone!

“So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me … Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.” ( Deuteronomy 26:1-19)

Around the time of the first Thanksgiving after my husband and I were married, we invited his paternal grandmother for a meal. I was the typical nervous bride not sure if I had cooked everything correctly and well. And here I was trying to serve up a meal to a woman who had cooked hundreds of such special meals. If memory serves, I did alright. We had many such special meals at my in-law’s house and at my parent’s house. Being Canadian, we sometimes had the advantage of TWO Thanksgiving meals in one year! It was also a Thanksgiving meal that I was invited to the first time I went to my future-husband’s house. One that occasion I felt more “alien” than Levite.

My mother-in-law has passed now, and I still hold memories of those Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Once or twice when our children were young they were strained and stressful – as it is I am sure with many young families. But mostly they were times of joy, celebrating family and abundance.

But such celebrations should not just happen on special and auspicious occasions, but small informal occasions also. A simple breaking of bread and sharing of soup can have just as much “celebration” and abundance as any large feast.

Speaking of feasts, I note that the Super Bowl was just recently held. In churches of my experience the Sunday of Super Bowl was also “Supper Bowl” or “Soup Bowl” Sunday, and offers and donations of food were collected for those who did not have sufficient much less abundance. As followers of God and faith communities, we share what we have and make welcome those who are in need.

Of course, you say, we should all do this. But take special note, gentle reader, that those gathered around the table from these verses are the Levites – the high priests of the Israelites whose task it is to represent the people before God and represent God to the people – and the aliens – those who do not God and may very well be unclean heathen/gentiles of which the Levites are not to associate with. Do not think, gentle reader, and do not assume who is and is not welcome at God’s feasting table! Shalom for your day!

Deja Vu Deja Vu-ed . . . or . . . . Thanksgiving Leftovers

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3: 1)

Five years ago when “A Simple Desire” first commented on the scriptures found in the Confession, a scripture passage for November 23rd was not supplied, and so we commentators/bloggers commented again on the 1 John 3:1. Five years hence, we have the same dilemma. What to say that has not been said before, or before that. I wish I had some original thoughts. Or a new perspective on this passage, or on the theme of salvation.

But all the comes to mind is the same thing, like another Thanksgiving table groaning under the same feast for the eye and the taste buds. But then, would we want something original or unusual for Thanksgiving? Or do we crave the same tastes and smells of years gone by? Who would not give precious resources for the chance to sit at their mother’s table and eat her cooking? Who would not travel most any distance to be reunited with relatives long gone and sometimes forgotten? Who would not weep at the chance to have another hug from a favorite relative? We yearn and sigh for the familiar sights and sounds. We wax poetic about family, forgetting how they can drive us crazy with habits and attitudes that grate on the nerves.

But consider this gentle reader; what if we could have a family that is all of the warmth and glow of the good times without the strain and aggravation of the not so good. That, gentle reader, is what it means to belong to the family of God. To be close to one another that there is never any separation or loss of time together – that every day is like Thanksgiving. That is what being called children of God means, that we are in such close community with one another that there is never ever any feeling of being apart. One would pity any person who does not have such a close and loving family; that in fact they have no idea what it is like to belong to such a family. No wonder they do not recognize it when they see it.

Well, I see I have found something to say after all. But I have said enough, and you have spent enough time in front of this screen. Go, be with your family because today is a grace day for most, if you did not have to work. Or you did have to work on this post-Thanksgiving day and now you should enjoy the leisure hours. Or, you are just at the beginning of your day, and it stretches out before you. Go, and remember gentle reader, you are not in this world alone. Shalom!