Greetings all, here is your Thanksgiving e-votional…

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”                                           –1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

In the early church when Christians gathered for worship they often gathered around the table.  They would share a meal, hear readings, sing hymns, listen to travelling teachers and share the sacrament (it wasn’t officially a sacrament then) of communion.  And I can imagine that at many of those tables there were more than a few comments muttered under peoples’ breath.  When one long winded member of the community might speak others would roll their eyes, or when a particular traveling prophet might talk of their need for financial support they might mutter “cheapskate” as he spoke.  We are all familiar with the looks and comments and shrugs that we have when people around the table annoy us.  They were the first Christians, but that doesn’t mean they did community perfectly, even as they sat together at the table.

And you know what?  We won’t do community perfectly this Thursday either.  This week we will gather with families and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, a meal that is a cultural, if not spiritual, sacrament.  We will gather with people far and near and, odds are, we have already begun making plans to deal with their quirks and idiosyncrasies, just as they have ours.  We will eat our meal and listen to a cousin ramble on about her troubles, a neighbor tell bad jokes, or an uncle launch into yet another political tirade.  We will listen politely (hopefully) and nod and then talk all the way home about these people whom we love but don’t altogether like.  It’s a tradition!

But here is the thing; when we gather as a community, whether it is with our biological family or our spiritual family, we still are the better for it.  These people might annoy or even anger us, but we should remember they also shape us, challenge us, enrich and renew us.  It is no wonder that the central Christian sacrament is a meal, because if there is one thing we humans hate doing it is eating alone.  Our sacraments, our worship, our faith, and especially our savior invite us into community.  And so we go.  After all the family has gone, or after we have returned home, we will gather in worship next Sunday with our other family, and we will understand that they can be difficult to deal with from time to time.  But we should also remember that we love them, and they love us.  God has given us an incredible gift in the Body of Christ with whom we worship and serve.  On this week of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of you.

Prayer:  Holy God, thank you for family far and near.  Thank you especially for my family of faith.  Help me to love them better this week and to appreciate the ways they have shaped and formed me.  They have been a powerful witness of your love to me.  I pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.