This week we pause to celebrate my most favorite holiday. I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday focused on thinking about how thankful we are, or should be, for all that we have. It is less commercialized than any other of the holidays we celebrate. Personally I am thankful first for my relationship with Jesus Christ. When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He’s done for me, my soul cries out Hallelujah! I praise God for saving me. Second, I am thankful God provided me my best friend and wife. The Bible says when a man finds an wife, he finds a good thing and obtains favor. She more than competes me, she brings out the rest of me. I could go on and on but today is not focused on me but on Thanksgiving in Urban neighborhoods. I will be brief today so you have time to read everyones holiday post that will come tomorrow and Thursday. Prepare for your thanksgiving sermons and spend time with your loved ones.
In the hood, families gather at big mama’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Food, fellowship, family, friends and football. Family members come from all over the city. Some who have moved away, come home to join the celebration. Students that have gone off to college come home, trying to show how much they have matured. In some families, brothers and sisters have grown up and have families of their own. Big mama may not be present anymore, and the kids rotate hosting the family dinner. The one common thing in most urban families are that anyone is welcome to stop by to “visit”. It’s amazing how open we become to sharing a meal with others during the holiday season.
But there are young people (and our volunteers) who don’t have the opportunity to experience these family get togethers. for various reasons, the family dynamics don’t exist or have been broken. Are you checking on your young people and co-labors to see what their plans are for the holiday? How about inviting them into your homes. Give them a peek into your world. It’s easy to have them come to youth group and meet you on neutral turf. But this year, let’s step out and take relationship building to a new level. Extend yourself to help someone else feel wanted, cared for, loved and included.
And to those who go into the hood to serve food or deliver care packages. . .
While this is a good thing, I challenge you to invite a young person from the neighborhood to share Thanksgiving dinner with your family in your home. Pick them up and take them back to your home. While you love to “go and do to people”, how about this year “doing with people”. A real test of our faith is are we humble enough to really be in relationship with those outside our homogeneous circles.
There’s great focus on Urban ministry these days. Friends, now you have a perfect opportunity to really do urban ministry. It’s not a program, it’s not a mission trip to serve dinners, it’s doing as God instructed us in Luke & Deuteronomy – to love the Lord . . . and your neighbor. And who is our neighbor is our neighbor? Anyone in need.
Great things happen when God’s people share a meal together. In Acts 2, we see the church in its infancy. Here we find the early disciples of Jesus being both physically and spiritually nourished. While they spent plenty of time eating the bread of life, they made sure to be caring and hospitable to one another, by opening their homes for a shared meal. To describe the real intimacy that comes from eating with your brothers and sisters in Christ, let us take note of what happens when one is found to be unfaithful to the will of God. The Bible teaches that those who are true and loyal followers of the Lord are not to have fellowship with those who violate the commands of God and will not repent (I Cor. 5; II Thess. 3:6-15). The common meal was a mark of fellowship. As Christians shared in the one faith and had the common hope of heaven, they would also, as the family of God, gather together for the purpose of sharing a meal.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours
I’d love to hear your stories of how you will be spending your holiday and involving your neighbor. Hit me back