One thing we know for sure, and that is Thanksgiving will never be the same again due to the pandemic. It will not be the same again because some family members have gone onto glory. The food will never be the same because no one can prepare it like those old-fashioned cooks used to do it. The cousins, nieces and nephews are now adults with their own families. The empty homeplace where we have had so many fond memories now awaits the return of the sweet odor of food and the sweet aroma of love. It awaits having the feeling that it is loved and everyone who enters its doors represent love. Because of the pandemic, most of us will remain in our homes or entertain with a small number of family members and friends. Yes, it is true, Thanksgiving will not be the same this year, but there is plenty to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has always had significant meaning because it has been a time when family members gathered under one roof to love on each other. We didn’t realize it then, but that is exactly what was happening and it was happening spontaneously. The love of my mom and dad made it special because they were always an extension of love. It was a time when our modest home in North Carolina would provide enough space for everyone to come together. Some slept in beds. Some slept on the floor in every room except the kitchen. Some brought sleeping bags and found a corner wherever space was available. Some would drive the distance early in the morning and catch a nap once they arrived. If you had to get up to go to the bathroom, it was almost impossible to do so without stepping on somebody’s body parts. Now those were some good times! Now is a good time for the family to rethink its position in these turbulent times. I believe many of the problems we are experiencing in society today are due to broken family ties.
Thanksgiving was never really about the food for me, but it was partially the good food that pretty much drew all of us to the same location. It was the food that caused us to center ourselves and give thanks to God for family, food and fellowship. It was the food that caused many to declare it was the best meal of the year. It was the food that brought life into the home, but it was the hands and hearts of those preparing the food who were really the stars of the day. They worked hard to ensure there was enough food for every person and they did it with love. It was the preparation of the food that brought stress on the host, but it was love that overpowered anything that hindered them. They did it with joy and dignity.
Unfortunately, Covid is still raging throughout our country and communities making it uncomfortable and unsafe to gather in large numbers. Many of us will go our separate ways this year, but let’s be thankful that we still have each other. Let’s be thankful for our food and shelter, and the vaccine that has made things safer. Let’s be thankful that the tradition and memories still linger in our hearts. Let’s be thankful for those who have carried out the tradition over the years. Let us be thankful to a God that has blessed us exceedingly.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we are living the good life. God has blessed us beyond measure. Do not make the mistake of comparing what you have with what others may possess. No one in America should be hungry even during a pandemic, for our food supply is not limited. We live in an age of haves and have nots, so let’s make sure we do not forget how we made it over. Let’s put forth a concerted effort to ensure that someone else finds joy in the holiday.
Whatever your circumstance is, take time to look around at what God has done in your life. Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, so pause and meditate just for a little while, and give God thanks for all He has done and is doing.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107: 8-9
The Psalmist acknowledges his personal experiences and reflects on his past and remembers the wonderful works of God and His goodness. Our God always provides and meets our needs when we cry out for help. He satisfies our hunger, refreshes our soul, encourages our heart and leads us into better days.
May we also acknowledge all God has done and continues to do in our lives. Let’s look forward to next year being even better than this one. Speak into existence those things you pray God to fulfill.
Not a sermon, just my thoughts! Embrace the precious moments you will spend with family and friends.
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor