Life today is full of contradiction. Winter’s arrival will soon be announced while, for my part of the world, summer seems very reluctant to leave. Media reports of violence and mayhem abroad wear me down and tempt me to feel guilty that I have so much for which to be grateful. The recent political scene and election results show families split right down the middle. Some will even celebrate the fast approaching national holiday with two separate venues, so bitter is the aftertaste. And I find myself wondering how many Christian families will be willing – will even think about ways to make the Thanksgiving Day event a time for which it was originally designed.
That first Thanksgiving Day celebration in the New World was a gathering of two diverse communities with values and traditions that challenged each other. Their overriding sense of joy and gratitude managed to set aside their differences, at least for a day. Their joy came from acknowledging that God had graciously granted them all the hope of future life built, in part, on the abundance of past harvest bounty and the prospects of another year inhabiting the same land in peace. Verbal communication would have been a challenge, too. And I can’t help wondering if there wasn’t an undercurrent of suspicion and fear. A reasonably pleasant ‘time out’ had been declared by the umpire, but what really would the next encounter hold?
For me, November is a month chock-full of contradictory emotions. Sadness rolls in like fog remembering personal loss long ago until a birthday celebration or visit from a dear friend blows it away. Uncertainty comes, too, as to how much leadership I should take in my family by suggesting ways on Thanksgiving Day to pause long enough to give thanks for life itself…even our affluent lifestyle based on multiple options and the ever present social media’s influence. It’s as if we overeat for one day in order to store up energy for Black Friday the next morning.
Of course, the latter is an overgeneralized attempt at humor. But, I do pray for wisdom to make a difference with my grandchildren who speak a different culture’s language from me and who face a world that is both incredibly exciting and dreadfully frightening. I remind myself to look for ways to speak into the lives of these younger ones that God sits secure on his throne. He knows the end of humanity’s story. I firmly believe God is Victor and will claim what is due him in the name of his Son who paid so dearly for that victory.
I’m grateful that the generations that come about because God brought Frank and me together one very cold, winter morning will be made up of men and women, boys and girls who will truly make a difference in their world and in the lives of others, to God’s glory. That, perhaps, is the very kernel of meaning for Thanksgiving Day and something of lasting value to celebrate.
The LORD reigns as King forever. Ps.29:10b