Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Forever Thankful

Thanksgiving is the purest, least commercial holiday on the USA calendar (though the encroachment of retail sales to Thursday is disturbing). It reflects four universal human experiences: First, gratitude for a harvest that sustains life for another year. Second, the centrality of shared meals: whether fancy or simple, there is something special about the table with family and friends. Third, a hospitable welcome for people of all cultures. From Squanto to an exchange student, mutual love and respect grows around the table. And fourth, our need to thank the Almighty and celebrate the bounty provided for our flourishing.

This year, A.D. 2019, the Thanksgiving Table takes on new significance for our nation and our world. What if millions of homes open their hearts and tables for peaceful celebration and conversation of topics other than impeachment and elections? What if around the Table, conversations were more personal, more encouraging, and focused on making neighborhoods stronger, with more opportunities for the marginalized? 

What if Thanksgiving history is shared, with the miracle of the Plymouth settlers meeting an indigenous friend who spoke their language and respected their God (and helped them survive)? What if we cry and laugh over what really matters?

This year, let’s host tables of inclusion and joy, lingering over delicious food (football can wait), and grateful for the warmth of faith, hope, and love? Political problems, football games, and great retail sales are ephemeral. But the people we love and the new friends we make are eternal gifts.

Observations of Our World

I am very concerned with the triumph of emotivism in academic/intellectual circles. Critical thinking is not confined to a culture, gender or race. Critical thinking needs new attention so our dialogues move us toward truth, and, where possible, principled compromise on policies. Please friends, let’s be unafraid listen with humility and observe with objectivity.

In our polarized world, there two things that offer hope:

  1. shared encounters in community worship; and
  2. shared engagement in God’s work that renews our communities. God’s presence expands our hearts in holy love and practical work expresses our unity in service.

For centuries, human beings have sought meaning. In our century, we are debating the meaning of being human. Grateful for the Biblical story that offers identity and hope, humility and purpose.

Lord, please heal us.
Heal our hearts: touch our deepest wounds as use us as emissaries of compassion.
Heal our heads: liberate our minds from captivity to crowds and release fresh thinking.
Heal our hands: deliver us from selfish motives and methods and unleash innovation and integrity for the common good.
Lord, heal our land, one prayer, one kind word, one sacrificial act at a time.
Amen.

Thanksgiving Peace

Thanksgiving feasts are as old as humankind’s agricultural bounty. They are found in every culture. Gratitude for another yeast’s food engenders humility before the Almighty and compassion for the less fortunate. The 1621 Pilgrim feast is regarded as the first Thanksgiving Day in American history, though Floridians in St Augustine (founded in the 1560s) and Virginians in Jamestown (1609) claim celebratory moments antedating the survivors of the Mayflower crossing.

The 1621 feast was the culmination of a series of miracles sustaining the fledgling colony. From sheer survival (half the colony died during the winter of 1620-1621 spent aboard the ship) to the encounter with the English-speaking Squanto, the Pilgrim’s were truly the recipients of many Providential blessings.

A forgotten part of the Thanksgiving legacy is the half-century of peace enjoyed by the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors. So many of the narratives of the Americas after 1492 are filled with conquests, displacements and disease. It is refreshing and instructive to see Europeans and Amerindian communities enjoying positive relations. The Pilgrims owed their survival to the helpfulness of Squanto and others. The Pilgrims experiences of marginalization and persecution no doubt influenced their policies of respect and toleration.

As we enjoy the bounty of our tables and televisions, let’s pause for a moment and thank the Lord for abundance and the relative peace and stability our nation enjoys. When virtue and mutual respect guide relationships, there is peace and property for all.