Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving--A Community Celebration

In the U.S. we’ll soon be celebrating Thanksgiving, a special day originally set aside by our early settlers, the Pilgrims, to give thanks to God for providing their food and safety. (though not the original date) Many have (rightfully) complained that it has degenerated into “Turkey Day” or “Football Day”, though food and games were a large part of the original. The lament continues that Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for families to get together—you know, like the Norman Rockwell painting. Wait! Where did that come from?

The Pilgrim’s celebration had nothing to do with family, except of course that they were thankful that any of their family members survived at all. It was a community celebration. The entire settlement came together, and they invited an Indian chief. Surprise! Massasoit came “ a day early with ninety Indians.” How would they feed them all? No problem, the Indians had brought “five dressed deer and more than a dozen fat wild turkeys.” They taught the pilgrim women how to make hoecakes, Indian pudding and popcorn! * The whole community brought food and there was plenty.

If each Pilgrim family had stayed around their own table, they would have missed the opportunity to thank God together with others who had gone through the same trials. They would have missed building valuable friendships with their neighbors (and another culture). And of course, they may have missed popcorn!

If you’ve been in the habit of keeping your Thanksgiving celebration in the “us 4 and no more” realm, I urge you to reconsider and include others from the church and the community. “But I don’t have enough chairs…” You can borrow some or even ask your guests to bring some. “But this is the only time I can be with my family…” Well, then that needs some work. Sure people often include those who are single--but don’t stop there. What about the couple who is far away from their family? Why not make room for them, too? “But they have each other…” Well, “us 2 and no more” isn’t healthy either.

Some of my best memories of Thanksgiving are of community gatherings. One year, when we had our house in Texas, we invited my parents and sister, and a family of three from church who brought along a hitchhiker they had picked up the day before! (I don't recommend picking up hitchhikers but the Lord used it.). Another year, a variety of us from our apartment building gathered to eat, pray and listen to my husband read about the original celebration. Don’t be isolated, celebrate together!

*The Light and The Glory by Peter Marshall & David Manuel

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1,2

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