Thanksgiving, today and tomorrow

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I spent my entire vacation last week fluffing the feathers in my nest.

In other words, it was time for fall cleaning and winter buffeting. All just in time to pick the pinfeathers from the turkey.

Thanksgiving, verb or noun, never fails.

It is my favorite holiday and always has been. Wonderful food, family gathered, the blessings of the past year chronicled and displayed in abundance. The day starts early with the turkey innards simmering to provide a broth for the dressing (which I still stuff inside the bird, warnings about food borne illnesses notwithstanding). The pies go in the oven early while I chop onions and celery and boil the eggs for deviling later. I set the table early as well, enjoying the sparkle of Mom's china, remembering her as I set each place. I work alone for the most part, bringing others in only at the penultimate moment when many tasks clamor for attention at the same time.

And while I work, I meditate on the many blessings -- not only of the year just past -- but all those through the course of my lifetime that have led to the blessings of this day.

We have known Thanksgivings of plenty and Thanksgivings of need over the years. One year, traveling back to north central Wyoming, we feasted on no less than three Thanksgiving dinners in one day. Our hosts provided the first taste of the traditional fare, friends of theirs insisted we stop at their table and then we traveled winter roads to Shell, Wyo., to a sumptuous feast. Had we known ahead of time how rich and flavorful that feast would be, we'd have skipped the other two altogether and starved ourselves for days on end to make room. That Thanksgiving stands in stark contrast to our Wichita Thanksgiving, where the only item on the menu was turkey. No potatoes, no rich gravy, no dressing, no pie... Still, we were together, and we were thankful.

Thanksgiving, the noun.

Thanksgiving, the verb, is a daily ritual. As a child I learned the table grace "God is great. God is good. Now we thank him for this food. Amen." Though we seldom crossed the threshold of a church building, Mom and Dad never failed to honor God with daily thanksgiving.

I try to do the same. And though the year brought some stormy weather our way, at the end of even the most trying days, there was still room for Thanksgiving in our hearts.

As 2008 dwindles down and 2009 looms, with all of the uncertainties surrounding the economy and the political scene, and with the ongoing wars bearing down on us as a nation and as individuals, Thanksgiving, the verb, needs to be a mainstay of our daily diet.

As surely as our physical bodies are strengthened by the various nutrients supplied in the Thanksgiving feast, as surely as our family bonds are strengthened by the time of fellowship together, so our faith is surely strengthened when we pause to give thanks, bringing to God the sacrifice of praise.

And though many storms rage in the lives of men, storms of death, separation, critical illness and injury, the storms call us to a place of sure refuge. And in that place, perhaps for the first time, we learn to pray. After all, it is in the storms, in the bright sudden lightning bolts from heaven, that we become aware of how small we are. Helpless in the face of death, helpless in the face of loss, helpless in a state of sin, our spirit cries out with the prophet Jeremiah "Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved..." (Jeremiah 17:14)

If Thanksgiving seems to be beyond you this year, this day, pray until the prayer become praise, finishing Jeremiah's thought "...for you are the one I praise."

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise -- the fruit of lips that confess his name." **Hebrews 13:15

Things you won't see in heaven: Empty platters

-- All Scripture citations are NIV

audio link to KNGN 1360 AM:

http://www.kngn.org/mp3/Thanksgiving%20Today%20and%20Tomorrow.mp3

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