A Blessing for You This Thanksgiving Day

I have shared before a blessing my former colleague Jennifer Wright once sent to me. I can’t think of a better prayer for this day; it expresses well my wish for all of you as we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day.

May you be with people you love.
May you eat tasty, satisfying food that has been prepared with love and with laughter.
May you reach out to someone outside your immediate circle to share your blessings.
May you be overwhelmed with gratitude for the bounty that you have received.
May you be aware of the depths of your roots in your family and your past and of the infinite potential of your future.
May you repose in utter trust in God’s love for you and God’s amazing, overflowing, creatively stunning intention for good for all of God’s creation.

As I prepare to celebrate this holiday with my family, I wish you and yours a blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day.

And, as you gather with family and friends, I hope you will take some time to revel in gratitude at all of the many gifts  that you have been given, and to remember the source of all you are and all you have.

How Will You Spend the Day After Thanksgiving?

There is a popular Thanksgiving meme that I have seen widely shared at about this time over the last couple of years.  It says:

Because only in America do we wait in line and trample others for sale items one day after giving thanks for what we already have.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  We will spend the day celebrating with our loved ones, giving thanks for all of our many blessings.

Why go from that to the insanity of Black Friday shopping?  Not only will some people line up before dawn on Friday, but some will rush out to the stores Thursday evening before they have even digested their pumpkin pie.

Relax! There are still many shopping days before Christmas!  There is nothing you need so badly that you need to make yourself crazy battling crowds in a shopping mall.

Why not let the celebration of that day spill over to the next day and abandon Black Friday in exchange for Fun Friday?

Our plans for the day includes cookie baking and playing games – and, of course, eating leftover turkey.  We will laugh, sing, and just enjoy being together.

How will you spend the day after Thanksgiving?

 

Will you Go for Broke?

Today’s Gospel is St. Luke’s version of the parable of the talents.  One interpretation of that parable – perhaps the most common one – is that the parable is a warning to those who do not use their gifts in life.  (Our understanding of the word “talent” in English contributes to that interpretation.)  And I think that is a good and useful interpretation – one I often speak about when talking about recognizing our giftedness and using our gifts on behalf of the building of God’s kingdom.

We are each given a unique set of gifts by God.  And not using those gifts is an act of real ingratitude.  So under this reading, this parable invites us to recognize our gifts, to own them, and to use them for the greater glory of God.

But it is worth considering whether the parable has more for us to reflect on.

John Donohue in The Gospel in Parable suggests that the real problem with the third servant was his timidity.  “It was timidity that spelled his downfall, which was not warranted by anything known directly about the master.”

Similarly, Gerhard Lohfink suggests that the parable means that the reign of God requires people who go for broke.

The master who goes away is now the exalted Christ.  When he returns he will demand a reckoning from each according to his or her abilities.  The accounting given by the slaves is thus the judgment of the world.  Whoever withstands the judgment receives a share in the eternal banquet of joy (“enter into the joy of your master”).  But those, like the third slave, who do not withstand the judgment, will lose everything and will be thrown into the outermost darkness….

Jesus is talking about the plan God has for the world.  He speaks of the new thing God wants to create in the midst of the old society.  This, God’s cause, Jesus says, will not succeed with cowardice, with people who are immovable, who are constantly trying to make themselves secure, who would rather delay than act.  God’s new society only succeeds with people who are ready to risk, who put everything on the table, who go for broke and become “perpetrators” with ultimate decisiveness.

In a related vein that broadens the lesson somewhat, John Buchanan suggests that “The greatest risk of all is not to risk anything, not to care deeply and profoundly enough about anything to invest deeply, to give your heart away and in the process risk everything.  The greatest risk of all, it turns out, is to play it safe, to live cautiously and prudently.”

As you pray with this parable, what is the lesson God hopes you will draw from it?