Come hungry. Really? It seems everyone is stuffed to the gills these days. Whoever would want a Thanksgiving turkey?
I had a delicious and delightful lunch with old high school friends this week. It was coordinated by a friend who is a Muslim, whose family emigrated here from Pakistan in 1958. (I didn’t know this about her when we were in high school, but now I do.) I had contacted her about “things Muslim” in my sports writing about Ramadan and the World Cup athletes and more recently about quotes I heard bandied about in anti-Muslim rhetoric. What I have learned about me is, I do better when I “seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”
This was alive and well among these friends, nerds all, of a sort: male and female, married and not, widowed and not, children and none. Employed, retired, stay at home, volunteer. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, agnostic … quite diverse, except for our ages. We were once classmates and, now take an interest in what was important and meaningful to the other. Conversation is lively and relationship comes alive. Current events are front and center, honesty and forthrightness abounding. I just love these people. I was hungry for their company.
Afterward, I joined my Muslim friend at a gathering of community leaders, religious leaders and citizens in Montgomery County where I felt more companionship than I sometimes feel among “my own kind” these days. As some leading Christians claim that God put Donald Trump in office, the dissension in our own ranks is palpable. I keep asking, how could people following the same Lord be headed in such different directions?
Then I see this Amazon commercial and think, that is simply genius. How can anyone disagree with that? Yet, one commenter did, saying, “Supporting magical thinking, regardless of what you call your imaginary friend, is still harmful to humanity and the planet at large. Theism is a form of mental illness that needs treatment … cult… addict … delusion,” Seventy people gave her the thumbs up. The originator of the post replied frankly but politely and got many more thumbs ups. Still, I am shocked at this viewpoint I did not know even existed, let alone had a healthy following. Where did this distrust and hatred of God come from?
These times have been allowed by God (if we believe in a sovereign God). I don’t think He wanted this for us, but this is what we have chosen for ourselves. As Dusty Baker, manager of the Washington Nationals baseball team, said (and I heard prophetically) about removing his starting pitcher from a game, “I didn’t take him out. He took himself out.”
We are a people who hunger and thirst for God, yet we come to the table so full we don’t want Thanksgiving. God will not force feed us, and He would have every right to excuse us. But, in His great mercy, He invites us to sit and eat among those who disagree and with those who are disagreeable to teach us how to pitch in such a way that we can go the whole 9 innings, and one day pitch the perfect game that He catches.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Wendy, the Kinesthetic Christian
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
That the rain has stopped.
That I have a moment’s peace to recall
That you know exactly what lies ahead, so into it we run, blindly, belatedly, but freely.
Bring back to our hearts, Lord, the moments we have felt most loved.
Bring to our souls, Lord, the very sense that we take our every breath in you.
Help us rest in you.
My favorite sermon title ever: “Why Thanksgiving Always Comes Before Christmas.”
Each year this has new meaning for me. One year, it was the poster of things our family was thankful for. One year, it was thankful things on slips of paper in the turkey centerpiece. One year it was the photo of the ultrasound that would be my third child. We are a very small family, so it tends to be a quiet unassuming time.
This year was different, we were filmed. Our every preparation was documented on video, even time lapse photography of the dough rising for the dinner rolls. We didn’t dare make a move in the kitchen without alerting our daughter that we were about to…whatever. Did she want to record it? It’s funny what you do when you know you’ll be on film.
The irony was, all this footage was for juxtaposition. As backdrop to the events of the next morning. Her plan was to set up in the dark and cold on Black Friday morning and record time lapse photos of shoppers entering and leaving the Target against the rise of the sun in a very cold day after Thanksgiving. Her theme: what you miss out on when you hurry to Friday.
Time lapse is a fascinating thing to watch. Hours collapsed into seconds. Days into minutes. Years into hours. A whole lifetime, in a movie seating. The camera doesn’t select the best or the most memorable, it just marches on click-clicking. It records snapshots and compresses them into a living video. What would such a video of my life look like? Non-selective, random, regular recording. Sun rise and sun set. Day in and day out.
The things best recorded and most in focus would be the stopping times. Those moments when I paused long enough to consider, to pray, perhaps to help or to devote or to sit beside. Perhaps I would be recognized by the things repeated, that would be defined in the overlay. Things I did again and again, year after year. I hope thanksgiving would be one of these things.
It seems different every year, but it’s the one thing – perhaps the only thing – that we can agree on in our country; that we stop and give thanks on the 4th Thursday of November each year. But even that I see changing, as Black Friday sales have slipped into Thanksgiving Thursday evening hours. The moments spent with family – are they stolen? reinvented? compressed to make room? For sure, they are ruining the overlay.
Neighbors on our street crack me up. They have inflatables for all seasons: a jack-o-lantern, an Easter bunny, a snow globe snowing on snowmen. Last year there was one turkey; this year there were five. Mom, pop, and the three kids. (Who needs window stickers when you have inflatables?)
I chuckled to see the new additions on Thursday.
Today, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, they have a new arrangement. A line of turkeys marching away from the corner. Presumably, away from Thanksgiving. What if, instead of bidding farewell to thanks, we let it lead us through the whole holiday season?
I think that was what Pastor Phil meant by that Sunday sermon. We always have Thanksgiving before Christmas because what a thankful people we are to have a Savior coming into the world yet again. A world grown darker since last year. A world even more self-sufficient. A world wrapped up in itself. Where Black Friday seeps into Thanksgiving Thursday because the stores are “just giving people what they want. More time to spend.”
Perhaps they have miscalculated. There is no such thing as more time. It is measured the same for all of us. There is however, time well spent.
What a documentary film our lives are making, recorded on heaven’s video, as time marches on and we lapse. Then repent. Thanks be to God for His one and only Son, here to set us right once again.