How will America gather for Thanksgiving this year? How did America first gather? In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims gathered with the Massasoit Indians to celebrate the harvest. It wasn't anything purchased from the grocery store, but what was hunted and grown and greatly prepared after much sacrifice and hard work. It was a union of what had been taught and what has been learned. It was a friendship forged.
It was the white man who had come to America. It was the white man who was accustom to celebrating the bounty called a harvest festival. It was the local Native Americans who taught the white man how to plant and grow and reap in a new world. Together they gathered. It was the local Native Americans that made room. That welcomed. Like any relationship, I can only imagine the beauty and the mess that unfolded. To share the land. To learn from each other. To be patient. To let love win despite the differences or trials.
The differences that had to be discussed.
The commonalities that connected.
The stories that were shared.
The gratitude that was given.
The praise and petitions that were prayed.
Did those that gathered at the first Thanksgiving honor Jesus? The Giver of all good things? Their Provider? Their Healer? Their Help in time of trouble?
How will America gather this year?
The elephant will most definitely be in the living room of most American homes on Thursday.
Our minds have been flooded with news and rumors and predictions and opinions. Our hearts have carried emotions that we didn't think humanly possible. Our family has personally held hands and invited others into our home and delivered sweet treats to people in our city who are hurt and confused and scared. I have embraced the quiet of the morning and the stillness of the night, wondering what is going on and what lies ahead and what does this mean.
I have had no need to get on Facebook the past month, but have been drinking in face to face time. I was so thirsty to see my parents on FaceTime days after the election. To see them went far more deeper than just talking to them. I needed to explain to them what their grandkids were experiencing at school in inner city San Francisco. I was desperate to have them empathize with the burdens that our four kids were carrying for their classmates and teachers. I needed them to intercede. I needed them to feel though we are coasts apart. They needed me to feel.
And I think about Thursday. I think about who's coming over. I think about our family on the east coast that we love so much. I think about people who aren't seeing family because of differing political views. I think about friends who wonder about this new land they live in. I think about the children who don't see their skin color as something beautiful, but something feared. I think about my Thanksgivings growing up and the assumptions that everyone had enough in America and everyone had a place to gather and feel loved. I think about this Thursday. This Thanksgiving 2016.
Will we only share our views?
Will we come with turkey and dressing and something to prove?
Or will we walk into homes across America with open arms and open hearts and agape love? A love that C.S. Lewis describes as "a selfless love, a love that is passionately committed to the well-being of the other." A love that has been deposited into the hearts of those who believe in God.
How will we discuss our differences? Let's listen.
Will we let our commonalities connect us? If we make Jesus central, He is our connection.
May we be vulnerable and share our stories? Our stories are glimpses into our past and shed light on our fears and failures, our joys and upbringings. Sharing stories can bring about empathy and authenticity that is much needed right now.
Can we generously give gratitude? We have much to be thankful for. And our gratitude is towards God, not towards government, not in who won or in the direction of a nation. God is in control and on His throne and alive in the hearts of Christ followers across this great land. Let us be grateful to God who is making all things new and is at work in us to bring about His good purposes.
May we hold hands and pray, voicing our praises and petitions to the God who hears and cares and holds us in His hands? Because one day every knee will bow before Him.
Then why not practice this Thanksgiving, this Thursday with those in our homes across America - to bow before our Maker and invite Him to be in control in our lives, our relationships, our conversations, our nation, our love, our decisions? What might He do with a broken and surrendered people?
I'm willing to stay awake to see.
For we are only as strong as the love we have for all people.
We are only as generous as we are grateful to God.
Let's honor Jesus this Thursday around the tables in America. For He is the Giver of all good things. Their Provider. Their Healer. Their Help in time of trouble.