Like 90% of Americans, you’ll likely go traditional, serving turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, perhaps a casserole of either beans, squash, sweet potatoes – or all three! Then, of course, topping it all off with the famous pumpkin and/or pecan pies.
It’s not likely your table will resemble the first thanksgiving meal in 1621. That three-day feast, shared between pilgrims from England and Wampanoag native Americans, featured duck, goose, mussels, lobster, hollowed out pumpkins filled with milk, honey and spices, formed into a custard then roasted in an earth oven; turnips, corn mush sweetened with molasses, onions, beans, turnips; gooseberries, raspberries and grapes…and, maybe, just maybe, a few wild turkeys.
I thought today we might center around the other factors of this beloved holiday feast: what happens around the table, besides just the eating part.
Let’s zero in on 10 things that could elevate your dinner to an even higher, more memorable, place.
Let’s talk etiquette.
No, not which fork you start with, or what that sideways utensil at the top of your plate is for; not about napkins on the lap or elbows on the table, or the proper serving size. Or whether you pass clockwise or counter-clockwise.
No, not that kind of etiquette.
Let’s talk etiquette of the heart.
Let’s talk about how the redeemed grow together and relate to one another as true family.
What’s Around The Table of the Redeemed?
– sweet fellowship; intimate communion
Remember when Jesus served uber wine to the wedding guests long after the party had begun and the wine had played out?
When His is served, the guests marvel that the host would save the best for last when it was customary to serve the very best initially.
Our takeaway is to offer the 100-proof wine of Jesus’ Life to one another at all times, on all occasions, never withholding.
Romans 12:10 – outdo each other…with wine-fellowship!
All too often, this is the sentiment among the church homies:
To live be above, with saints we love
That will be glory!
To live below, with saints we know
That’s another story!
Let’s turn that into:
Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Second (and Third) Helpings
– points to CHRIST, make Him attractive; make Him the point; don’t make Him just a small part of your day, make Him the main point of the day; make Jesus the cornucopia of your fellowship
2 Corinthians 4:7 – Jesus is the bounty in the horn of bounty!
This day is not about you grandstanding, soap boxing, grabbing the spotlight and being the center of attention.
Find the Jesus in the ones around the table and nurture that in your conversation.
– who serves?
The Norman Rockwell iconic painting “Freedom from Want” has the Dad wearing the suit reaching for the carving utensils. He’s the head of the household and yet he’s given to the role of serving the turkey.
In the economy of the Kingdom, we would do well to remember the ones with delegated power are the ones with the responsibility to humble themselves to work for those with none. Pastors aren’t celebrities, they’re servants. Bosses aren’t bossy, they’re busy…making sure their charges are exceeding their own expectations. Husbands aren’t ruling over their wives, they’re laying down their lives for their wives…
– tables and settings are usually set up for even numbers; make your table ‘odd’ or uneven as a reminder you don’t belong in the family either, but grace has set a place for you, too.
Your reservation is waiting…
– this represents the rich and awesome, sometimes deep and often heavy, doctrines of God. We need to encourage our brothers and sisters to leave the paper plates and smaller helpings at the kids’ table, and to dive into the meatier offerings of the Life. You can find such in the apostolic writings and in the types and shadows of Messiah in the old scriptures.
These complement the rich foods that lie heavy on the soul and mind. These edify and strengthen the saints.
Veggies prevent cancers, obesity, high blood pressure, eye diseases, bodily infections; provide fiber, vitamins, potassium, iron, contain no cholesterol, etc. They’re the perfect compliment to the meats of rich doctrine, and they’ll be found in the psalms, gospels and parts of the epistles
– salt as a covenant of peace
The exchange of salt was an ancient symbol of friendship and even marriage commitment. If salt was left outside, in the elements, it would spoil and be useless. It needs to be guarded, shielded, covered, protected, like all our relationships.
– conversation among family, words of grace
‘Seasoned with salt‘ meant be interesting, tactful, engaging; we are often guilty of benign, insipid conversation.
Don’t drone on and be boring. If you’re not a skilled conversationalist, talk less, listen more.
Say things that spark enlightenment, give encouragement, offer revelation, proffer instruction. Enough of meaningless small talk! And no long soliloquies and bloviated one-sided teaching, either! Sometimes verbal tweeting is perfect dialogue mechanics!
A 17th century nun prayed:
Lord, You know me better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occassion. Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody. Helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but You know, Lord, I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the endless recital of details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occassionally, I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint – some of them are so hard to live with. But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen
– sharing my livelihood and plenty with my brothers and sisters; generosity
The Romans text, “show hospitality”, means to be fond of (friend of) guests, aliens, and strangers.
Our English translations make it two separate ideas: share with the saints…and also practice hospitality. But Paul is saying ‘when you share with each other, hospitality is fulfilled’ or ‘you show hospitality whenever you share’ – not only money, but to share joys and sorrows as well.
– recognizing the generous blessings of God
Read Romans 5:9-17 carefully and underline ALL the “much more” and “more than” phrases. It’s a beautiful way to see that our salvation is a MORE THAN salvation, always more, constantly blessing, taking us from heaping helping to heaping helping of glorious grace!
To draw to an end (so I’m not grandstanding, soap-boxing and bloviating), let me offer this moving tribute to those who first settled our shores. Be blessed to know that – in their less than ideal situation of death and disease – they never forgot the MORE THAN of their salvation, that His love was more than enough to conquer their sadness and give them pause…to be overwhelmingly thankful.
May His grace bring this to your remembrance as well.
The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
~ H.U. Westermayer
Selah, fellow pilgrims.