“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I completed my second year of seminary classes. I received a positive Endorsement decision from the Candidacy Committee of our synod. On October 13th, I gained a new daughter–in-law. It was a beautiful wedding, beginning with a church ceremony where family and friends gathered to celebrate Bryant and Michele in the presence of God, and ending with a celebration where there was much food and fellowship. Now, Bryant and Michele have a big decision to make - whose house will they visit on Thanksgiving Day? Isn’t that a good problem to have?
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It has always been a day when family gathered together around the dinner table and celebrated the many blessings in our lives. I have been extremely fortunate in that most of my Thanksgiving days have been joyous.
With all that I have to be thankful for, I can’t help but think about many, many people for whom this Thanksgiving will be a difficult one. Some are rebuilding or relocating because natural disasters have tragically caused disruptions in their lives. Some are grieving the loss of a loved one, wondering how they can be thankful in the midst of great sorrow. As we gather around our dinner tables, there are those who are trying to survive hunger and homelessness.
I love the quote above from Colossians. It is a reminder to give thanks in all circumstances. It is a reminder to not only give thanks, but to live out our thanksgiving. When Bryant was in training for the Army National Guard, he was away from home on Thanksgiving Day. A local family invited him to their home for Thanksgiving Dinner. They were living in thanks. I was grateful that someone was that generous.
The congregations of PLUM are living in thanks. There will be a free Thanksgiving dinner again this year at Bethany Lutheran Church in Dormont, where hundreds will receive the gift of food and fellowship. Many little bottoms have been diapered by the diaper banks at several of our churches. Each of our congregations lives in thanks when we serve the communities where we are located, and when we help each other with an event or a project.
It is great to have a day set aside for giving thanks, but that day has become an ordinary day for many. Some will have to work that day. Some, because of the circumstances of their life, will not be gathering with family around a dinner table. This is where our living in thanks and serving our neighbor can be demonstrated. If you go into a business on Thanksgiving Day, remember to thank the employees for being there. As you do your holiday shopping, buy a few extra non-perishable food items for the local food bank. Pick up some diapers or supplies for the diaper bank. Is there room at your dinner table for one or two more, someone who does not have friends or family near?
Just like Thanksgiving Day may be just another day for many, every day can be Thanksgiving Day for us.
May God Bless You All
Seminarian, Sue Devine
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773