I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my Thanksgiving duty, other than helping Jill clean-up, is to make the mashed potatoes. And I really look forward to it, even washing and peeling the potatoes. Then it’s time to get after it and begin the mashing. I do it manually, no mixer, just an old fashioned potato masher. And I mash until the potatoes become a semi-smooth consistency with a minimum of lumps. I love Thanksgiving. It may be my favorite holiday because it’s people coming together, giving thanks to God, and eating. No gifts, no hyper-manic Christmas decorating, and not a lot of stress. Sitting around tables with other people and sharing a meal.
In the book, Called to Community, the Life Jesus Wants for His People, several chapters deal with the importance of sharing a meal around a table and celebration. In Called to Community, sharing a meal around a table is called table fellowship and it’s important because it’s what we are meant to do. When we neglect sharing meals around the table, we harm our basic humanity. We chip away at what it means to be a human. Our earliest human ancestors, after they hunted and gathered their food, they came together, shared their food, and ate communally as a group.
There’s another activity that is basic to being a human being. And that is worship. Just like sharing meals together, human beings, from the early days of our species, have felt a call to worship in some form. And that brings me to the importance of celebration, and in Called to Community, the French spiritual writer, Jean Vanier, writes “Celebrations are an expression of the ultimate purpose of humanity. We are made for communion and celebration. Celebration is first and foremost, a song of gratitude, a “thanksgiving.” In our worship, we celebrate the Eucharist, which is the Greek word for thanksgiving. As members of this church, as people of God and followers of Jesus, and because we are human beings, we should look for ways to share meals together and look for time to celebrate and have fun together.
Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for us; celebrating and giving thanks is what we do every Sunday as part of our worship. Being Christian is also being part of a continuous cycle of life as we end our period of Ordinary Time and begin our time of Advent and begin waiting and preparing for the Big Event. And we will go through all of this next year just as Christians have been going through all of this for nearly two thousand years. It is appropriate that there is an official holiday of Thanksgiving right before we begin a new church year and Advent. I can’t wait to start mashing. Happy Thanksgiving!