Monday, November 10, 2008

Planning A Feast

"But when you give a banquet,invite the poor,the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed." Luke 14:13

In the past few days we have been wrangling over what to do for Thanksgiving. It seems like an annual exercise and something that is never solved well. The Gospel reading from Luke reminded me of how we often try to prove something or win approval in our feasts. Instead, if love is the goal of all we do than we should be inviting our true family, the ones who truly need to be fed. In light of this Gospel, I want to share a story of one Thanksgiving that gave my family a whole new perspective on things.

Several years ago, about this time of year, we began making plans for our family Thanksgiving celebration. At the time our oldest daughter was in college and our other daughters were living at home. Both grandmothers lived some distance away as did our siblings. We tried to consider everyone’s feelings and needs – as parents and are wont to do – but we also wanted to maximize our time all together with our children. We tried several scenarios and were not making much progress. As we continued to get more frustrated with the difficulty of making plans, I exhaustedly asked, “What is most important about Thanksgiving?” I fully expected for somebody to make a sweet and appropriate answer about the blessings of family or our good health. I hoped they might say something about food and the joy of being at home with people you love, the gathering of generations and the funny stories that get told. Instead, all of our daughters yelled out together, “pie!” Pie was what they needed to make Thanksgiving. They went on to tell me that we could make Thanksgiving happen anywhere as long as there was pie.

We finally agreed that, for a change, we would go collect Emily in Boston and then spend the Thanksgiving weekend in Plymouth and Cape Cod. We purchased several pies (no one could agree on just one flavor) and spend our time together discovering the gifts of the north Atlantic in the winter. We were far from our home and far from our traditional family gathering. Nothing was familiar. Love and home found us right where we were and we were thankful.

I learned a lot from my daughters that year. The lesson they taught me continues to teach me about the true meaning of Thanksgiving, home, and family. I learned, in a very real and visceral way, that home and family are not bound by place or tradition. Love and home are not bound by geography and not tied to only one jurisdiction. Thanksgiving can happen right where we are, even if we are far from our relatives or our homes. God will bless us right where we are and just as we are. In Jesus Christ, we have a home where ever we are found – and we have family in abundance. We have in baptismal bonding to God in Christ, a diverse, creative and unlimited understanding of relations. We are home, loved, and welcomed where ever we are because of Christ. As long as there is something sweet for us to share together, then love can take root and we are truly thankful.

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