As I write this I am sitting in our house in Tempe. My husband has gone off to play golf and my kids, home from college, are still sleeping. I am going through the recipes and checking the shopping list, preparing for the big day. I love Thanksgiving! Typically, we celebrate with my sister and brother and their families. My sister brings sweet potatoes, my brother smokes a cut of meat, and dinner starts two hours late. After we eat, we spend the day catching up with each other (we are not really a football game watching family).
Year after year we have observed the same Thanksgiving traditions. But not every year has been the same. Some Thanksgivings were heavy with grief because someone had passed away that year. Other years conflicts simmered under the surface. When the kids were little, it was chaotic and noisy. Last year it was a quiet, intimate gathering…a little sad but also calm and relaxing.
Yet, regardless of what is happening in our lives, on the third Thursday in November we gather around a big table and share a meal. It’s almost unthinkable that we wouldn’t. This is why I love the holiday. It is the epitome of tradition. In the words of Shakespeare it is “the ever-fixed mark that looks on tempest and is unshaken.” We need these traditions to hold us steady in times of change. Traditions help ground us, reminding us of what we value and how we live out those values.
Sunday worship is like Thanksgiving every week. It is an opportunity to be grounded in what is important and to give thanks for a God who loves us. We may walk into the sanctuary carrying all kinds of burdens and stresses, but for the hour or so between the prelude and the postlude we can set those burdens aside and gather around the table of God. This enables us to go out, strengthened and renewed for the week ahead.
So, though I am celebrating Turkey day here in Arizona, I look forward to celebrating a day of gratitude with you on Sunday. Until then…
Happy Thanksgiving! May it be a blessed day.