Thanksgiving Devotion

Thanksgiving Devotion

November 19, 2021

Written by Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence

In one of my small groups, there has been much conversation around recipes for Thanksgiving and the foods people are most looking forward to this year. There was debate about main features (turkey, duck, goose, ham, lasagna, prime rib) and side dishes (green bean casserole, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, Jiffy corn casserole, coleslaw, baked beans, deviled eggs). We talked about the baked items: bread, rolls, and pies (pecan, pumpkin, mixed berry, chocolate) that guests anticipate. We reminisced over favored traditions noting games will be played, football will be watched, naps will be taken. The general consensus was we all love Thanksgiving, even when it is bittersweet. And my goodness, we have been through and continue to journey in a bittersweet time.

We will miss those who are absent. We will miss family members and friends whose work, school or health prevents them from joining. We will miss those whose absence is marked by grief - grief caused by death, fractured relationships, or other forms of loss. It might be that you are the one who is absent from others and Thanksgiving is feeling more bitter than sweet.

My invitation to all is to take time alone (if possible) and simply sit at your table. You may want to envision tables filled with loved ones past or present. You may want to dream of what the table this year might hold. I know I will sit at the table remembering grandparents and my dad who have each gone on to glory. I will sit at the table recognizing the absence of my daughter who will be celebrating in Washington, DC, where she is in law school.

I will sit at the table and pray; this is something I do with great regularity. I will think of our faith - and the power of the “Table” in our story. The table at which Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with his closest friends; Jesus sitting at the table with Pharisees - and at another table with tax collectors. I will remember the woman who came to Jesus with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and who poured it on his head as he reclined at the table. I commend to you the table promise found in Psalm 23, verse 5 - that reminds us of a table prepared and a cup that overflows. There are so many stories that happen at the table. 

No matter where we are and who we may or may not be with this Thanksgiving, here are a few things we can celebrate about being at the Table:

  • The Table Connects - it is where we build and strengthen our relationships with others;
  • The Table Teaches - it is where we learn about history, heritage, and happenings in the world;
  • The Table Reminds - there is something powerful that happens in connection that reminds us people need deep-rooted love;
  • The Table Provides - it is where hard conversations and deep sharing can happen; the table can provide space for truth-telling and forgiveness; it can be a place where relationships and people can be restored;
  • The Table Welcomes - whether planned or unplanned guests - we can offer hospitality at the table; we also recognize we can take the table to others and extend hospitality through giving;
  • The Table Celebrates - not only the event of the day; but the table holds space for gathering, gratitude and grounding. It is like a Sabbath moment when we can look around at all God has created and we can celebrate the very goodness of the moment;
  • The Table Honors - in our faith tradition, we can leave one empty seat - the Jesus seat - who is the ultimate Host - at your banquet of gratitude and grace.
It has been a hard yet holy last 22 months for so many; I pray you each gets some quiet time at the Table to sit in the power and presence of our most loving God and claim your table as a sacred place for connecting, teaching, reminding, providing, welcoming, celebrating and honoring this Thanksgiving.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
(Psalm 30:11–12)