More than bread and bargains
Balboa Union Church Thanksgiving Sermon by Phil Edmonston
I am not a big fan of Thanksgiving. I prefer to thank the Lord through my prayers, not by eating some poor bird that has one chance in 20 million of being ‘pardoned’ from the axe by President Trump. Nor will I beat the bushes for bargains at the mall, or herd into my home the same relatives whom I purposely avoided most of the year.
Faith, action, and spirituality
Yet, I still celebrate Thanksgiving. But I treat the event in the way that Christ teaches us: through my Faith, Actions, and innate Spiritually. This is all laid out in Luke 10:38-42 when Jesus and his disciples ‘dropped in’ to see Martha and Mary:
At the home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary’s faith, actions, and spirit transformed Jesus’s visit into an intimate, moment of love and sharing. During Thanksgiving we affirm our faith in Christian values, if only for a day, and ignore the bloody history surrounding our forefathers’ treatment of native people.
Sadly, our better nature doesn’t always prevail at Thanksgiving. Try this challenge to test the Bible’s admonition to — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When driving down the Cinta Costera during rush hour. See if you can give five motorists the right of way without getting beeped off the road.
Thanksgiving facts and fables
Ah, and then there’s the “fake news” we are asked to gobble at Thanksgiving. Historians know the first Thanksgiving never took place at Plymouth Rock in 1621 with local native tribes joining in to celebrate a bountiful harvest produced by hard-working Pilgrims. The truth is that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by an English pirate/explorer named Martin Frobisher while holed up in Canada’s frozen north (near Baffin Island in the Northwest Territory) in 1578. Others point out that celebratory harvest feasts were common thousands of years earlier. In 1957, Canada proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday the second Monday of October each year, while Americans recognized the holiday in 1863 as a stratagem to unite the country during the Civil War (the fourth Thursday of November).
The colonists weren’t in a celebratory mood in 1621 due to the poor harvest wherein many starved and others survived mostly by robbing native graves for the corn they contained. The colonial character was also marked by indolence and theft that Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford decried in his diaries published in England. He wrote: “The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.” He added, the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.”
Colonists starved for years because they wouldn’t work in the field. Another factor was that the Pilgrims were practically all indentured servants who had to export to England most of what they produced to pay down their contracts. It wasn’t until a few years later, after England had given up some of the fur trade that the colony became self-sufficient.
Celebrate through good works
Celebrate quietly at home, with a good book, the Bible will do, or pass the day with a few friends and family members whose company you still enjoy. If you do go out, visit the sick, volunteer at the food bank, sing in the church choir, or take a homeless person to Niko’s.
Don’t under-estimate the value of doing these things as a way to thank the Lord and crystallize Christian virtues, while forever changing people’s lives.
I know. It changed my life completely
Growing up as a street urchin running the streets in Washington DC, where my mom depended upon the local food bank and a small monthly welfare check after my dad’s lingering death from cancer left us penniless. Thanks, to my small paper route and the kindness of my African-American subscribers, I always had a turkey meal spent with a family somewhere along my paper route.
And have you ever spent the holidays in a hospital, or even a weekend? Not hell — purgatory. Yes, purgatory, in the sense that you are alone, with no place to go, and not knowing when you will be released.
Hospital staff, doctors, and technicians may be out of town — in December, celebrating Christ’s birth with Santa Claus under a dead tree decorated with lights and a mistletoe hanging in the hallway authorizing a drive-by kiss attack, or in April, mixing in a blender the story of Jesus’s Resurrection along with chocolates, soft bunny rabbits and hard-boiled eggs.
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