I hope and pray that we have all enjoyed a fulfilling Thanksgiving filled with good company, good food, and perhaps a bit of our favorite sport (whether that can be found on a television or a couch or a beach). It is an important thing to gather and give thanks for the richness of our lives, both in terms of material items and in terms of relationships.
I have shared with some of you that I enjoyed a fantastic tradition in my own childhood each Thanksgiving. One particular family in our church decided one year that they would invite everyone who didn’t have a place to be on Thanksgiving. After the loss of my mother, the Rhodes family felt warmly drawn into this fellowship and it has been nearly 30 years of on-and-off Thanksgiving revelry!
As a part of this somewhat-regular Thanksgiving group, we learned much about what another. We learned who was best at particular board games; we learned who preferred which college football teams; we learned who made the best pre-Thanksgiving appetizers (the 7-layer dip was always my favorite); we learned who was most likely to set the candied yams on fire in the oven; we learned who was best at carving the turkey; we learned who made the smoothest mashed potatoes; we learned to always pass the serving dishes clockwise; and we learned precisely how many dishes could fit in the dishwasher and where the extra glasses should be put away.
This learning wasn’t something that took place all at once, but was experienced on a journey of years as children grew – as did a few waistlines – and some from our merry band moved on into life eternal. For all of my life, I will envision Thanksgiving as a complex and precious gathering of people who grew in life and love together. And for all of my life, I will seek to journey with the complex and precious people in my life remembering to learn and to laugh and to love.
To quote – once again, and surely not for the last time – one of many favorite theologians: “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” – Steven Tyler, Aerosmith
This particular phrase is often incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, though it seems to simply be a modern proverb from the early 20th century. In practice, the phrase seems to have been commonly used by persons of faith as wisdom that the journey continues to transform us. God continues to transform us.
This Christmas season, we enter into a sermon series based on Adam Hamilton’s Book The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem. Part of the exploration is geographical as Mary and Joseph came together from different towns (Mary from Nazareth and Joseph likely from Bethlehem), as Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth in Ein Karem, and the late-pregnancy journey to Bethlehem. There was also a spiritual journey of profound implications as the promise of Messiah was proclaimed to families of humble backgrounds.
Learning about these journeys may help us to parallel, to experience these journeys anew as we reflect on the arc of our own lives. I believe this exploration can help us to see ourselves in the Christmas story and to see Christ in our own story.
Please join PB UMC as we join together on a journey of faith through the Christmas narrative. Let us explore our challenges, our fears, our hang-ups, and most of all our transformation. I believe the story of Christmas told for these past millennia continues to transform the world.
Come and journey to transformation. Invite someone who may wish to experience their own journey and transformation. Let us learn about our God, ourselves, and one another in new and meaningful ways.
May we all be filled with grace, peace, and love…