making ministry real

>> November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Partly because it seems like one of the rare American holidays that actually has to do with relationships rather than material consumerism.

Thanksgiving seems more about getting together with people than going out shopping for more useless clutter. I like that.

But I guess on any holiday, it can get easy to be wrapped up in ourselves. The perfect dinner menu. Just the right table decorations. Whether or not the least favorite relative is showing up this year…

It can be a challenge to see the holidays as opportunities to minister, especially as PW’s when our schedule is dictated by the number of special events at church. And when all we’d really like to do is maybe hide away at home with our husbands and families and have just ONE happily uninterrupted day together.

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my family made some winter holiday memories together that profoundly impacted my little girl self. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I know that we were poor. Not just “less-than-comfortable”. We were totally below the poverty line.

But there was another young family with a new baby who lived near us – and they were even poorer. So my parents decided to help them out. We went to the grocery store and put together a shopping list. Then we packed all the bags as prettily as we could into an open banana box and walked over to their house.

We tiptoed to the door, set the box on the step, rang the doorbell and ran merrily around the corner of their little trailer to wait for them to discover the gift.

My childish heart felt a thrill as we watched them exclaim over the simple box, knowing that I had been part of giving them something they needed.

Thanksgiving can be a great time to involve ourselves and the children around us in the excitement of meeting someone else’s needs. At a season where even selfish society urges us to be thankful, sometimes we need to be the reason for another’s gladness.

Besides, it’s those small things that are small on money and big on heart that make lasting memories for both children and adults. Have you had a similar story you’d like to share here? Or maybe you can think up something creative to do with your kids this year to spread the thankfulness around?

2 comments:

dpm November 24, 2008 at 2:04 AM  

We had Thanksgiving today (early) with my husband's family because we're going to be out of the country with my family on the actual day.
As I was helping to prepare the food, I started feeling disgusted about how much care and attention and work I was putting in to preparing all this food for family and friends who've never been hungry a day in their lives....
If I'd been preparing this food for a hungry stranger, would I have spent so much time finding just the right recipe? Would I have spent the extra money on organic ingredients? Would I have opted to make something simpler and less time-consuming if it had been for the crazy homeless woman down the street who walks around cursing everyone out all day?
Lots of introspection while boiling and slicing sweet potatoes...

Katie November 24, 2008 at 10:47 PM  

Something we started last year was inviting people from our church who do not have family around and/or are single. I love hosting a large group of people; I guess it reminds me of my family. We love to serve those around us in a relational, tangible way.

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