After we stuffed ourselves with corn bread dressing, oyster dressing, turkey and sweet potatoes with browned marshmallows on top served on aunt Millie’s Franciscan Apple china, we lingered at the elegant dinning room table for hours telling stories and laughing. After the sun set, Dad said we were leaving but then Millie made turkey/cream cheese/cranberry sandwiches and we began the two-hour goodbye until finally we pulled out of the driveway, aunt Millie standing there waving until we were out of sight.
My first Thanksgiving without my family occurred when I was 24. My grad school friends and I had no idea what we were doing but somehow we figured out how to get the main dishes on the table and we muddled through. We piled into my small apartment in Connecticut, gathered as refugees seeking the comfort of home while distanced for the first time from our sacred traditions. But we laughed, played games and offered comfort to one another and it was enough.
My first Thanksgiving in Kansas City I was alone but my parents drove up from Texas so that we could be family and it was so odd that I would be the host and oh what pressure to cook for my mom who is a culinary genius and perfectionist in the best sense of that word. I made the dinner and one pie but bought the second pie (why did I think three people needed two pies?) from a French bakery. The pie cost $10 which seemed lavish in those days. It was raining when I picked it up so I parked carelessly to run in. And I got a $25 parking ticket which I could not afford. I felt so silly, eating that $35 pie and the one I made was better!
I suppose what I’m saying is that Thanksgiving is not just a general feeling of gratitude, although what could be wrong with that? We give thanks for something in particular, something specific. We name aloud or silently how God has come to us through someone’s face. We pause to reflect on the unique gifts God offered us. What are those for you this year? The Old Testament repeats the refrain ‘Give thanks to God, whose steadfast love endures forever.’ And Jesus breaks bread with his friends offering thanks, even in the midst of strife. I am deeply grateful for each one of you and the unique gift of life you bring to our church. The bounty we share is God’s particular gift to me, to Kansas City and to the world. When I think of faith I do not think of a vague sense of spirituality but of the stones and stained glass at 61st and Ward Parkway where lives intersect and grace is present. Thank you for revealing God’s goodness.
Grace and peace to you,