Thursday, November 27, 2014

“Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.” ― Henry Clay

Today, all across America, families are gathering for a feast and to tell each other why they are thankful.  Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday because it centered around family, good food, and football—hard to beat that combination.  Today, in Memphis, Tennessee, my older brother and his wife, my sister, and my younger brother are all gathering to celebrate as they are all that is left of our immediate family.  I am truly sorry that I cannot be there, but I rejoice that they still gather as a family.  Family for most, is what ties individuals together, what supplies the trust, caring, and comfort every person needs.  There are millions and millions however, who have no family, who are all alone because of war, disease, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other causes of loneliness, alienation, and isolation.  There are homeless individuals and whole families who have no place to call their own, no safe place to lay their heads.  While I am sad today because I can’t be with my own family and because both of my parents have passed away, I find joy in the goodness in the hearts of all those who have dedicated themselves, this day, to feed the homeless, to provide shelter, to give warm clothes to those suffering in the snow and cold, and to be doing what Christ told us was most important:  feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoner.  All of those things will be done today all across America by people willing to give up their own holiday to bring smiles, light, and warmth to those in need.  One of the churches in the U.S. that I pastored has a huge food pantry that will be providing gifts of food, not just for today, but for the coming weeks as well.  Another church, at which I was an associate pastor, still provides hot meals for the homeless twice a week and works in conjunction with an Episcopal church across the street to provide meals on three other days as well.  Thankfulness is frequently a matter of perspective.  I am in a lot of pain from my surgery Sunday morning, but I am so very, very thankful that the malignancy had not spread, that I had a good surgeon to fix things, and that I may continue to serve my Lord here in Tanzania.  Karen is in a lot of pain, but she is thankful for a small dog that brings her smiles and more love than you could possible imagine.  John is thankful that he got a package from the U.S. today full of small parts and things he needs to work on his cheap, solar computer projects here.  Of course, we are also thankful that we were able to buy a turkey even if we had to pay $7.00 a pound for it.  In ten years here, it is only our third turkey.  John also got green beans, cranberry sauce, and is making stuffing, so we will have as close to a real American thanksgiving as we can get.  We are also thankful that there are those who pray for us, support us, encourage us, and help us to keep a positive attitude even when we fail.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Lift a glass to us (ice tea, of course) and think of us as you celebrate with your family.  You have family here, too, God love you.
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