Since 2015, the central part of our Thanksgiving celebration here at the church has been to gather with our friends and neighbors from the First Baptist Church on New St. for a potluck.
Perhaps more than any other activity or event we have shared, this annual meal has embodied what we have hoped to build since renewing our relationship six years ago: communion, trust, honest conversation, friendship, and a shared sense of identity and purpose.
We have been intentional in focusing more on sharing meals together than sharing worship. Those services have been meaningful too, but I’m not sure they would have been as rich without the experience of sharing a table together and eating each other’s food.
One of the magical things about tables is that, when we share them, we can’t help but see each other “face to face,” as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians. There’s a vulnerability inherent to tables and shared meals. This is especially true of potlucks, where everyone contributes, offering their specialty to the whole.
One of my mentors from seminary, Matt Myer Boulton, a writer and theologian, says the steps to honest dialogue across differences are to “eat together, play together, and hold each other’s babies.”
And when we think about it, what could be more worshipful? And isn’t this what we do with family and friends around this time of year.
Sadly, like so many things, this standing Thanksgiving date was put on hold last year. Sadder still, we will put it on hold for this year as well. In speaking with Pastor Goolsby recently, we both agreed that as our congregations ease back into our rhythms it would be too much to try and gather together just yet. We will look forward to coming together in the year ahead, we hope in many different ways.
So we will celebrate Thanksgiving and the grace of gratitude in worship this morning. We’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper and call to mind that meal that is so central to our faith and understanding of what love is and what discipleship demands.
We’ll sing Thanksgiving hymns that give poetic voice to our tenderness. And even as we are not out of the woods just yet, we’ll nonetheless invite each other to give thanks to God for how far we have come in this long, long season.