Thanksgiving Devotion Nov 24
Written by: Susan Marsh, Stephen Ministry Leader
Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7
With the hint of fall in the air, our thoughts turn to the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. Some of the feelings we are experiencing this year may be joy, excitement, anxiety, sadness, dread, anticipation and/or depression.
Traditions are what binds families together and ties one generation to the next. I remember as a young child my mother always prepared a traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, including pumpkin and apple pies. Our family had a dairy farm which meant my parents started their day at 3 a.m. Somehow, my mom managed to put this meal together in addition to her normal workload. As we grew older, she would give us small jobs to do in the kitchen, but basically, she carried on this family tradition until she died. For many years after I tried to duplicate the same meal and I still to this day do not know how she accomplished such a beautiful feast basically by herself. After several years of putting so much stress on myself to create the same holiday traditions, I realized it was never about the turkey! The traditions we need to pass on to future generations are about family, friends, neighbors, connections, acceptance, generosity, love, caring, inclusion, thankfulness and of course, all those memories.
This year many of us will have a very different Thanksgiving and Christmas than in the past. Travel for most will be postponed until it is safe to travel to visit family and friends. A full dining room of family and friends many need to be adjusted to keep everyone safe. How do we cope with this change in our usual traditional celebration? As we are reminded in the scripture, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”. (Philippians 4:4) God has this! We just need to turn to Him and accept his loving guidance, abundant grace and overflowing provisions.
In my work over the years with families, one of my favorite talks was “Stress and the Holidays.” I listened as exhausted parents described how difficult it was to pack up the family every year, travel across the country, make a meal at home or just try to make memories with their children. As we talked, they were able to give themselves permission to stay at home for at least one of the holidays. Parents discussed how they could invite others to share their table who would spend the holidays alone or make their own tradition. You could feel the relief in the room! Other ideas included a gratitude journal where everyone at the table would write a message or draw a picture of one thing they were thankful for that year. The journal would then reappear year after year!
So, this year, it is OK to allow yourself to feel all these emotions as long as we remember that Jesus is sitting at the table with us. It is OK to make a new tradition with your family and friends. This year our celebrations may need to be virtual, but remember it is not about the turkey!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for seasons where we are constantly reminded of your love for us. Help us remember you are there even when we feel anxious, alone or sad. As we turn to you today, fill our hearts, souls and minds with your abundant grace, peace and provision. Amen