Have I mentioned that my favorite all-time holiday is Thanksgiving?
No trying to guess the perfect gifts to buy. No struggling with a tree to put up and decorate. No ladders and lights on the house. No obligatory cards with expensive postage stamps to send. (Sorry, sometimes I am a bit bah-humbug-ish about all the trappings of Christmas. I will most likely write about that in December.) Thanksgiving is just a much simpler holiday.
At Thanksgiving, we come to the table, and there is more going on then just filling our tummies.
I have fond memories of childhood table times when my family gathered to share a meal. Laughter and story telling were as regular as mashed potatoes. Pastors and their families, soldiers far away from home, missionaries often sat with my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
We miss a lot by driving through for meals. We eat on the run on our way to some place else. Or we sit in front of the TV so we can catch up on the pre-recorded programs we just can’t miss while we scarf down our food. All eyes are glued to a screen – instead of each other.
I’m as guilty as the next person so please don’t think I am throwing stones. I live in a glass house myself.
But I am learning to value the ministry of the table. With Sweet William and me confined to the house a lot lately, our coming and going is limited. What we can do is invite people to come sit at the table with us. It might be a home-cooked meal or simply store-bought muffins and coffee. Either way, there is something precious and meaningful going on, and we are the richer for it.
So I look forward to the Thanksgiving table. The food will be wonderful of course, more than we will be able to eat. The special recipes we’ve been enjoying since our parents were the primary cooks will be there along with new and fresh dishes from the younger generation. We will come hungry and eat too much. After the main meal and the sampling of several desserts, we will settle back with cups of coffee, looking through Black Friday ads as some plot the course for shopping.
At the table we will reminisce and catch up. We will laugh and maybe cry a little. We will share ideas and opinions. We will find our hearts longing for those not with us this year, and we will treasure each person who is present.
At the table I hope we accept one another with our differing opinions and gifts and strengths and weaknesses. It is the way Jesus sat at table with such a variety of people. Scripture records Him often enjoying food with disciples and friends. He always brought His most tantalizing dish, His love for those sitting close. He offered them a taste of abundant life and deep drink of living water. Some partook. Others went away still hungry and thirsting for things that cannot satisfy. Still Jesus offered.
While our table setting is different, the principle remains the same. Sharing the table is a way we share ourselves. And we hope others accept our gift.
The table gives us time to sit and just enjoy, not just the food but one another. We don’t always allow ourselves that luxury in the busy world in which we live.
I will soon be making my grocery list for Thanksgiving, ingredients for my own special dishes, my standard repertoire. As I cook I will remember other years and rejoice in the gift of time to enjoy family and friends.
This year I will linger at the table and will remind myself to treasure these moments. We never know if it will be our last time to be with the ones we love.
So no matter how far or how much effort it may take this Thanksgiving, come to the table. Take time, my friends. Sit awhile. Relax. Love those around you at the table. There is ministry going on.