When our family gathers for Thanksgiving, you can be sure there will be a feast! For years, Laura and I along with Ben would go to Kerrville to my parents house for Thanksgiving. And as the photo here shows, oftentimes I would assist by carving the wonderfully cooked turkey. These days, we go to the DuBose Family Farm where my sister-n-law Kerry and her family host a large gathering of family and friends for this special meal. I am looking forward to it with great anticipation.
And then there is the family blessing said at holiday meals. Who is going to say it? One of the preachers of the family? All of us together? The youngest? So many biblical traditions come to mind with the Passover meal and the liturgy the family uses to tell the story of God's saving act in Egypt. I can imagine your family has some traditions as well in how you give thanks and how you share the storytelling of God's love and mercy.
The recommended bible verses for this Thanksgiving Day come from John 6:25-35. In that section of scripture we hear Jesus in conversation with those who seek him after the feeding miracle. They have come seeking additional signs as to the true identity of Jesus. Is he the One, the Messiah? Is the wait over after all these years? They wonder, are we saved again, at last, forever? Jesus replies and teaches them by using the imagery of believing, working, coming, and seeing which all imply a relationship with God in Jesus, the Christ.
Jesus says to them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me , not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."
Okay Jesus, (can you hear the murmurs... what's that mean?) What must we do to perform the works of God? And Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." And the people responded, "What sign are you going to give us then? So that we may see it and believe (in) you?" (Keep reading the scripture for the rest of this story.) The conversation continues with Jesus finally declaring that "I am the bread of life."
Our Thanksgiving meal tends to focus on the turkey. What about the bread, the real bread, the gift of God in the lives of God's people. Are we just celebrating a day with families as a result of Puritan storytelling and that first hard season along the shores of a new land?
My hope this year as we celebrate in the family feast will be to remember that just as the manna in the wilderness was like bread from heaven, the gift of God which has come down from heaven indeed is Jesus, the bread of life. And as we tell our family story, let us include the stories of how God has saved and continues to save God's people.
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend