Pastoral Letter for Thanksgiving 2016
When people talk about different denominations within the Christianity, they point out what stands out in each. The Catholic Church with the Eucharist. The Episcopal Church with the liturgy. The Baptist Church with baptism. How about Methodist church? I have heard many say that the Methodist church is all about food. While I am sure that there is more to Methodist church than just food, I believe that they are onto something there. Whenever food is shared, there is fellowship. When people gather at the table together, they share stories, laugh together, and grieve together. Sharing food is a way of sharing our lives together.
We certainly see that the ministry of Jesus could not be separate from food. The first miracle he performed according to the Gospel of John was that he turned the water into wine at the wedding in Canaan. One day, he saw the crowd going hungry while listening to his teaching. Since they had nowhere to go for food, he performed the miracle of feeding five thousand people on five loaves of bread and two fish. When he saw God’s children being reconciled to God, he entered their house and shared foods with them. No doubt that he was accused of being a gluttony because he always hung out with people over food and drinks.
One of my joys serving Living Faith UMC is that I witness the love of God through our ministries of sharing foods. We offer the food items at the Daily Bread and meet people who come from many different places. We sit together with people on Friday as we serve home-cooked meal. I can see that they are deeply touched in their hearts over the warm food. It is just amazing to see that different people come together and form a new community. They may not call themselves a “church.” But in my humble opinion, I witness a community of God, the kingdom of God, where the host of feast is none other than Christ, our Lord.
As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I am sure that all of us will be busy to prepare many foods. I am planning to host one myself on November 23 by cooking turkey, bread stuffing, grave sauce, mashed potato, and macaroni cheese. If you wish to come and join us, please let me know. I know that many will be occupied with where they go for the dinner on Thanksgiving and what time they stand in line for Black Friday shopping. But I pray that we all recognize the presence of Christ at the table who holds our lives together blessing us. Before digging in, hold the hands of your children and family members, give thanks to God for another year of bountifulness, fellowship, and life. Christ is certainly there with you.
If you also wish to practice a spirituality of extravagant generosity, we gently invite you to consider giving to the Daily Bread for the thanksgiving baskets this year. The true spirit of Thanksgiving is grounded in the hospitality for/by the strangers. When the colonists were starving to death, the Native Americans shared hospitality by teaching how to plant, hunt, and survive the harsh winter in New England. It is a day to remember how hospitality brings strangers together overcoming indifferences and animosity. As we reflect whom Jesus sat at the table with, we know that he always befriend with the sinners, strangers, women, and children, I pray that we think about who are silenced, forgotten, and oppressed today. Aren’t they certainly our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we are invited to sit together today?
May God abundantly bless your table of love and hospitality on this wonderful Thanksgiving Day!