“For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:20 (ESV)
Series Focus: “A Time for Everything”
Every year presents times to gather with loved ones and feast together in celebration. The aromas, delicacies around the table, & heartfelt greetings fill the atmosphere with comfort, joy, and delightful expectation. What changes through the years are the people around the table and the seasons of life they are experiencing.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite annual celebration. As a child, I remember my Great Aunt Irene and Grandma cooking up the spread. My Uncle Maitland sharpened the knives for the turkey carving. My Grandma would instruct my Grandpa to set up the tables and chairs continually through the dining and living rooms so that all of us would be seated at one grand table to share the traditional feast. A train of linen tablecloths overlapped each other across the room, and mismatched chairs surrounded the tables from the front door all the way back to the kitchen.
Our tummies growled in great expectation as the scrumptious meal brewed. The little ones played games while the older kids were tasked with filling the glasses with ice and water. The men watched football and discussed current events while the women worked feverishly to be sure every detail of the dinner presented perfectly. At last, the turkey measured at just the right temperature! The scurry to set the bounty on the crowded table ensued and we all gathered around the table, held hands, and united in faith to give thanks to God.
David shows us a wonderful example of praising God and sharing His goodness with others in Psalm 9:1 (NIV):
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
In Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV), the author instructs us to not forsake our gatherings, but to keep on coming together until Jesus returns:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Joining together with others around the dinner table provides time to connect with, encourage, love, and support one another. It allows the opportunity for us to share our joys, struggles, pain, hopes, and dreams. Most of all, we can unite in faith and offer praise and thanksgiving to God and tell of His wonderful works in our lives.
As I remember Thanksgivings past, my mind drifts to heartfelt memories and pictures of people, places, & events. Some good, some bad. Some happy, some sad. Some hysterically memorable, and others horribly mundane. I’m thankful for all of them.
We can fall into the trap of looking at traditional festivities as being the same thing year after year. The same people. The same food. The same routine. … But I’ve realized it’s not the food that makes the celebration, even though it is overwhelmingly delicious. It’s not the tradition for gathering that is the focus, although that does warrant celebration. The most important reason for gathering is to see God in and to share God with the people around the table.
Whatever the situations, whatever the seasons, whomever the faces – love, support, laughter, connections, honor, encouragement, & lasting memories can abound. Amid the familiar spaces, aromas, and delicacies, recognize that for everything there is a time and a purpose. Even though the people may change and the circumstances we endure in life differ, year after year, when the time comes to gather, let’s commit to unite with others to praise God and to cherish those whom we are with—in every season.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Matthew 18:20; Psalm 9:1; Acts 2:46-47; Hebrews 10:24-25; Ecclesiastes 3:1-9