My family and friends know that I love Thanksgiving. No, not for the reasons you expect – the feast, great football, and pumpkin pie. Although I certainly enjoy them all. When we were all in Little Rock for Suzy’s mom’s funeral we took Jeremy by Quigley field where Central High played Hall High in the annual Turkey day football game in high school. Everybody was home for the holidays so the game every year became a true homecoming of sorts. It makes me sad that very few high school traditions like that remain.
I love the church’s Thanksgiving service as well. It just seems right to me that we all gather, a church community, to give thanks, especially right before the season that has become cluttered with commercial excess. It too is a homecoming of sorts. I see whole families together in church scattered throughout the year come together to thank the real source of our blessings.
My children are scattered this year for Thanksgiving which I understand. They need to develop their own traditions surrounding this day of grace, but they always know they have a place at our table and in our home. They know wherever they are and whatever they do, they are in my heart. They know wherever they are, I am there. They know they may think they are gone, but with me they never left.
I commend to all my readers the book by Henri Nouwen, The Return of The Prodigal Son. It is full of discussion about the many messages contained in the parable. One of the most important is the thought that whatever calls us away from God and regardless of what we or others have done has no bearing on God’s love for us. Wouldn’t it be nice if each of us reacted with similar warmth to all our fellow men and women not just our families – we could say to all the words of Christ – “you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” (Luke 15).