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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:
“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!”