The words of this hymn bring to my mind an image of women with bonnets and long dresses, men wearing odd hats and shoes with large square buckles, all walking to gather and share a meal with a group of very differently dressed native Americans. A famous painting captured that scene as the artist imagined it would have been and his rendering has remained a part of this American holiday ever since.
Our annual tradition almost 400 years later is not so different than theirs, though we are dressed very differently and cook our food in ovens instead of over an open fire. Someone in that original group of Pilgrims had the idea to host a celebratory feast of thanksgiving, shared that idea with others, and together they created a menu and invited their neighbors to join them.
Being intentional was the spark that gave us what we all love today.
You may not yet have plans for next week, but there is still time. And if you do already have plans here is what matters most, so you don’t lose your joy in the monotony of chopping all those ingredients for the dressing and the salad and the sides.
If you have an idea to invite someone to share the day with you, a new addition to your group or someone who might want to join you so you aren’t both alone, act on it! We are too quick to reject those ideas, which are often directly from the Spirit of God Himself.
We, and I’m speaking of me here too, let fear of rejection or being so different, stop too many of us from taking that relational step.
Right now in our country, with so many of our neighbors unhappy over the election results, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reach out and welcome others in. Especially if you have different views on life. Jesus didn’t shy away from those who didn’t understand Him. It’s exactly times like these when those of us who know Christ can shine like the stars of the heavens, if we will—with courage and grace—reach out in love to others.
Taking the initiative to bring family and friends and even strangers together, like the Pilgrims did, like Jesus did, is what matters. It doesn’t matter if everyone agrees, or if the pumpkin pie was overcooked.
When you bring people together around your table you are building memories. You are investing in relationships. You are modeling what Jesus did.
Tables are one of the most important places of human connection. When we gather with those we love and care about we share more than food. We nourish one another’s souls and we strengthen our connectedness.
And importantly when we share a meal, especially a feast like Thanksgiving, we are getting a glimpse of the banquet we will experience in the kingdom of heaven. Coming home for Thanksgiving or being welcomed to another’s home are both foretastes of the welcome God Himself will extend when He gathers us all to His home in heaven.
Jesus Himself told us this, so we know it is true. He said, “And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the earth to the other” (Matthew 24:31). “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9).
What a scene that will be as millions from all continents on the globe will be called to this feast. Imagine them and all of us making our way to heaven from wherever we are on that day.
This Thanksgiving, as you gather with one or many remember you are practicing for the feast to come, for the forever relationships we will one day enjoy forever in perfect peace.
I pray you will open your door wide this year. I pray you will invite many. May we who know Jesus show the world more of Who He is as we extend grace and welcome and love this Thanksgiving.