By Pastor Mike Gillen, Bowling Green First, Eolia, and Oak Grove UMC
Like so many of you, I am getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve set out a pair of blue jeans that fit extra loose along with an oversized sweater. I want to make sure I have plenty of room in my clothes for my expanded waistline as I try to sample some of everything that my family brings to dinner.
We’ll have an enormous buffet of food complete with turkey, ham, stuffing, vegetables, salads, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and much more. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not eating a little of everything.
Isn’t this what Thanksgiving dinner should be about? Feeling as stuffed as the Thanksgiving turkey?
When I was a kid I can remember lots of adults at Thanksgiving talking loudly, eating lots of food, then turning on the television for the football game and snoring away the afternoon. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving should be?
A couple of Thanksgivings ago I can remember getting together with my extended family. It was an unseasonably warm day. My kids and all of my cousins’ kids went outside to play.
Having eaten too much and forgotten to wear my oversized jeans, I lay uncomfortable on the couch watching football on t.v., hoping I’d go unnoticed so that I could sleep off the turkey coma I felt slipping over me.
Then my son ran into the room and begged me to come outside and play. He pulled on my hand and forced me to get up. With great pain and discomfort, I threw whiffle balls and footballs for hours in the warm sunlit day. Is that what Thanksgiving is about?
As a pastor I’ve found that I’m often expected to pray at meals. At my family’s Thanksgivings I’ve been asked many times to offer THE prayer before we eat. We join hands, bow our heads and hope that the family’s official man of the cloth would offer a good (translate that to “short”) blessing for our meal. Isn’t that Thanksgiving?
I’ve grown nostalgic as I’ve gotten older. I find myself remembering people no longer alive who I enjoyed seeing at Thanksgiving. I miss Uncle Charlie, who looked like Ichabod Crane, tall and skinny with long arms and legs, laughing with a funny laugh at the jokes Aunt Nelly would tell. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving does to us?
There’s also something about Thanksgiving that calls me to a deeper faith in God. The Bible calls on those who put their faith in Jesus Christ to have a life that is “abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).
When I think of a life abounding in thanksgiving I think of the many ways I am blessed by this wonderful creation. And I think of all the Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends that fill my mind and soul.