I’ve said this many times over the years writing on this site, that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (read some of my older Thanksgiving posts). I’ve always loved the food, the smells, the gathering of family, in a way that is somewhat inexplicable. It feels me with a sense of tradition that I look forward to every day.
For me, November begins the journey to Thanksgiving and this year I thought I’d try to get to the heart of Thanksgiving and why I love it so much and what it means to me, though a series, that I’m titling “Traveling to Thanksgiving.” Each post is my attempt to share a little of the joy I get from Thanksgiving and to relate the joy I receive from knowing Jesus Christ.
Do you travel?
Many of us travel to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. Some families come from all over the nation to gather together to celebrate this holiday. We personally don’t go to far, just traveling about 10 miles to my parents where much of my family still gathers. This holiday seems to draw people together in a way not seen in many other holidays. But despite the hustle and bustle of traveling for the holidays, I think the journey that we go on as we get to know Christ more and more not only draws us closer to Christ, but in fact draws us closer to each other.
We have a choice on our journey through life. Some may reject the good news of Christ. To travel on through this life looking to this world or to themselves to fulfill some sense of belonging and satisfaction. If you recall in the Parable of the Lost Son, the son wants to live his life in the world and for awhile, he had fun. Before long however, he squandered his inheritance on wild living and had nothing, even the pigs ate better than him.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. – Luke 15:14-16
Some of us chose to follow Christ, to come home if you will to our true family, no matter how far. To make that journey with joy and thanksgiving. To look forward to the day that we can all be together as one family again. In the story of the Lost Son, when the son decides to come back home to his family, he thought he was traveling back just to gain the comfort of home, even if he was to be treated as a lowly servants (and he fully expected to be). It would have been worth it, just to gain the security of home.
But look at what happens in v20.
… But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. -Luke 15:20
His father not only saw him on the way and ran to him, but he was actively looking for him. The son didn’t just surprise everyone by showing up on the doorstep one day, no his father was looking for and hoping for him to come back home.
God feels the same way about us. We have gone astray and he is actively looking for us and waiting for us to return. When he sees us far off in the distance, heading home, he will run to us and embrace us and say “Welcome home.”
Thanksgiving is a celebration of not only God’s provision and for thankfulness for all that he’s done for us, but for us it’s also a celebration of family. It’s a celebration of thankfulness that our family is together and enjoying the company of each other. But it’s also a reminder of the large family we belong to and to how God longs for the day when we can all sit around that table and enjoy God’s bounty together.