Gifts
Foreigners in Your Land
Love Warmly

Over The River and Through the Wood

Over the RiverGive thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal. Say to him, “Save us, O God our Savior; gather us together; rescue us from the nations, so that we may be thankful and praise your holy name.”

1 Chronicles 16:34-35 (Good News Translation)

I have very fond memories of Thanksgiving. Many of the other holidays have had various disappointments, but for me Thanksgiving is reliably good and satisfying. Perhaps that’s because it was such a time for family, that over the decades, relatives made an extra effort to come over the river, through the wood, or across the country to gather together then. As a child, and now as an adult, the place to gather is still grandma’s house.

In the various homes over the years, the smiling faces, the delectable kitchen smells, the women huddled in the kitchen and the men huddled out in the yard or around the tv for the game, kids scattered on the carpet playing…these are the cherished memories that have gradually faded into a blur of contentment over time. There was always something to help with, someone to chat with, a joke to tell, a story to share – and pie!

Although my family is not predominately Christian, Thanksgiving has always been a time to focus on the blessings in all our lives. And there are so many. It is also a time when the family is okay to start the meal with a prayer which is also a blessing. It’s the time of year when the past, present and future meet together as I gaze over the faces seated around the room, noting the absence of some and the addition of others, all sharing in an abundance of love and provision. At least for the day.

I realize that not everyone shares these kinds of memories. And honestly, any time family gathers there are some wounds and hurts lurking in the corner, threatening to steal the joy. I realize that it is not a time of abundance for everyone. It is not a time of family drawing near for everyone. My own family has had various feuds that left some uninvited. Memories can bring pain as well as joy. But I do strongly encourage everyone to focus on the many things to be thankful for, set aside differences, and find the joy in gathering together. Perhaps you need to find a tribe of like-minded believers to celebrate with. God intended our church family to BE a family, after all.

The pastor recently said that family should be a little taste of Heaven. For me it really is – at least on Thanksgiving. I can imagine arriving at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb to find cornucopias of fruits and veggies decorating the tables, and the smell of roasting turkey and stuffing and other delights filling the air, with men huddling on one side telling jokes and women huddled on the other sharing all the family news and updates. Lots of hugs and happy tears of reunion. The final cup of wine, The Cup of Praise or Consummation – based on God’s statement, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God,” – will be set before us. Jesus will ring the dinner bell and begin the feast. We will all be filled to the fullest with every good thing – – and pie!

PRAYER: Dearest Lord, whether in a crowd of many or few, help me show gratitude for all of the ways You have blessed me this year. Help me bring a little bit of your heavenly peace to my celebration, my friends and family, and my life. Thank you, Amen!

Grateful Blessings,

Jen

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