Scripture: Philippians 1:3-11
Right now, I have Georgia on my mind.
That’s because tomorrow I leave for LaGrange, GA. It’s my dad’s hometown, and the site of almost every Thanksgiving I can remember. We do a big family deal, one that start with my grandma, her sister, and her brother.
From there, we move to their sons (yes, all boys) and their wives and kids.
And those kids, and their spouses and kids.
You get the picture. We don’t do nametags, but I’ve often thought that we ought to. Recently-wedded brides and grooms are given a review of the major players before going in to dinner: “You remember so-and-so, she’s married to such-and-such, who’s Red’s oldest boy…”
As we’ve grown older, attending this event has become more complicated. Where can everyone stay? Where can we all get together to eat? Can the new in-laws break from their own traditions and join into ours? But still, not going doesn’t seem like an option. I love my dad and all the people I’m related to through him. So we make it work.
It may not have been a very diverse group when we started with the three original siblings, but as we’ve multiplied ourselves through marriage and child-bearing, we’ve really branched out. Seated at our family meal this year will be hunters and golfers and quilters and photographers. We’ll have a wide variety of professions represented, from doctors to plumbers, teachers to soldiers. We come from five different states. Granted, there’s not a lot of ethnic diversity here since we’re all a part of this same family tree – but I still think it’s pretty cool to see a group like this come together for a good meal followed by even better desserts and some yard games.
That’s something to give thanks for. To paraphrase Paul: I give thanks for them every time I remember them, because of how they fill my prayers with joy and the overflowing love we share together.
Here’s something else to give thanks for: The diverse group of Christians that gathered for worship last night in Andrews, NC for our community Thanksgiving service. From my vantage point up front I could spot Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, nondenominationals, and Seventh Day Adventists.
Like my family Thanksgiving, a joint worship service like this presents some possible complications. Some of us have female pastors, some do not. Some of us sing hymns, some sing praise songs. We celebrate communion in slightly different ways every Sunday, or once a month, or once a quarter. Our Seventh Day friends do church on a whole different day. And whose house is going to fit us all?
But we’re here for the same reason that I’m heading to Georgia tomorrow: We love our dad, our Father God. And we love all the people we’re related to through Him.
And don’t you think our dad, our Father God, loves Christian family reunions like this one?
To paraphrase Paul: I give thanks for all those Christians I got to worship with last night. They put extra joy in my prayers, because of the overflowing joy we share together.