Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year! The day begins early at our house with meal prep, polishing silver serving dishes, setting the table with the special holiday dishes and the annual search for Aunt Gussie’s green serving bowl, which seems to dematerialize each year from where I am absolutely sure it was put after last year’s feast.
The early morning hour also brings a scavenger hunt for any who have come in the night before. We gather in the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee and then the contestants are off on a hunt to see who can find the most unusual natural, non-animal related materials for the Thanksgiving tablescape. [You’ll note that I specify non-animal related material since we have seven boys and a barn! Need I say more?]. Some set off on horseback in search of treasure, others head to favorite spots already scouted out the day before.
The hunters return loaded down with evergreen boughs, berries, branches and colorful leaves as well as other items of interest, which might include rocks, sticks shaped like snakes, tree bark, part of an old turtle shell (long vacated) and a coil of rusty barbed wire. [...the contestant arguing that barbed wire is indeed native and naturally occurring in rural areas. ]
All these materials are noisily brought in and placed on the floor of the dining room with great flare—like a gauntlet laid down in challenge. Those who don’t participate in the hunt are then given the task of somehow turning these assorted odds and ends into a tablescape that will “delight and surprise”—hedging our bet just in case any fauna have hitched a ride inside on the flora and decide to make their appearance during the meal!
It’s always fun to look at that odd collection of raw materials and begin to formulate an idea about how it all might come together. One rule: it all has to be used. Nothing is wasted.
While the tablescape looks different every year (and some years it looks really different) there is one constant component: three dried beans hidden somewhere around each plate. During the course of the meal, each person will take one of the beans and tell something that they are thankful for. The bean is then placed in a small crystal bowl and passed to the next person. The bowl makes at least three orbits during the course of a very noisy meal as we remind ourselves and each other of God’s blessings.
There have been several times during the past year that I have been reminded of Thanksgiving morning when I see raw materials here at PHC taking shape into something that is both unique and beautiful. In those moments, I again realize that we have much to be thankful for.
We are all in various stages of seeing the raw materials of our lives take shape. Sometimes that process goes smoothly. Most of the time, and certainly in my own life, it can be a bumpy, uneven process.
Through it all, God is at work making us a masterpiece through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
My prayer for you today is that you will experience the joy of friends and family who gather to give thanks for all that we have been given through Christ.
We really do have much to be thankful for!
Father, thank You for reminding us through Your Word that You never give up on us. That neither “height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from Your love through Christ”.
We confess that we often see ourselves as a messy construction site covered with construction tape rather than a masterpiece in progress.
Where we see a pile of random materials piled in the dining room floor, You see something beautiful about to emerge.
Forgive us for the times that we fall prey to the accusations of past mistakes that seem to echo endlessly across the canyon walls of our minds.
Help us to better distinguish between the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, which leads to repentance, and the crippling voice of the accuser, which only leads to shame and self-defeat.
Thank you for Your unfailing love and for gift of Your Son. Help us to rest in You, even today.
In the Name of Him who gave His life for us,
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