Nov 19, 2015

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not harm, to give you a future with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV

Thanksgiving is the only holiday on which it is fairly easy for my family to get together. Having a total of four pastors in the family means Christmas and Easter are both hard-working holidays. Therefore, they are out of the question for any type of “normal” family get-togethers.

There are a few traditions my family has around this holiday that are absolute must-haves. The first is that usually on the evening before, whoever can make it to the house goes, and my mother then makes the pies for the next day with her grandchildren. This activity usually involves lots of flour and sugar all over the place, sticky hands and sticky faces at the end.

You have to understand something about this tradition: it isn’t just one pie. No, this is every family member’s favorite pie. It isn’t uncommon for us to have ten or more pies, depending on what everyone wants that year. So this activity with the grandkids is a large production filled with lots of running back and forth and playful teasing and instruction.

The next morning gets started with me putting the turkey on and settling down with everyone to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I then periodically get up to check on things, or I put items into the oven so that they are all timed to get done together.

In the midst of all this bustle and abundance of thanksgiving, I am always reminded of the precious gifts of our loved ones and our community. Because it’s the only time that my family has to gather together I always find myself being reminded of how fleeting these moments are.

God has given me, not just me but all of us, so much. God has given us those who surround us to love and be loved. That includes families who almost always have at least one argument over the Thanksgiving table, even if that argument is about a word count in scrabble.

To Jeremiah God says “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not harm, to give you a future with hope.”

We would do well to remember the gift of family and the gift of community that we enjoy. We are called to love and hold one another as the precious, beautiful images of God that we are called to be. These moments are not just the present, but the promise of the future.

Remember, in this season of abundance, the true heart of the matter is what lies right in front of you.

— Pastor Jon

By the Rev. Jonathan Wesley Hall
Pastor, First UMC, Frackville, PA,

Republished with permission of author from News from the Pews, November 2015