Father Holtzen reminded us in his Thanksgiving homily that feasting is a gift from God. In fact, a refusal to delight in blessing is characteristic of the wicked (Ps. 109.17). Throughout the entire Old Testament, God is always trying to lead Israel toward blessing. Only the stubborn and wicked refuse this blessing and long for earthly goods far less valuable than what is offered by the Lord. But the faithful delight in praising God for all of his blessings (Ps. 103.1-5).
As Christians, we have much to be thankful for. Yesterday I realized that one of the greatest things I’m thankful for is community. Dozens of us joined together at Nashotah’s refectory and brought our homemade Thanksgiving goodies to the table – green bean casserole, mac and cheese, cajun fried turkey, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie – and happily shared our blessings with one another. Every dish I tried was fantastic, but the food was only a means to an end – community. You could look around at any moment and see the joy emanating from our fellowship. I don’t think one person wasn’t smiling or laughing the entire time. We were simply enjoying each other’s presence. After dinner, some gathered at table for conversation and coffee. Some stood around and mingled while their little ones playfully crawled around. Some of us engaged in a fierce game of Pictionary to test our drawing skills (uproarious laughter abounding). A small group ended the afternoon with Evening Prayer, our bellies full of turkey and hearts full of gratitude.
The blessings of God don’t just serve individuals’ need for gratification. God’s blessings are community-shaping. Israel was led toward the land of milk and honey so they could share it together. We Christians are being led toward eternal life in the Heavenly City – where we will enjoy the splendor of God’s presence in community. Just as we communally celebrate over the individual gifts we bring to the Thanksgiving table, so we will celebrate forever in community the gift of our redemption.
Thanks be to God!