Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3)
Hmmm... how to make a post that accurately says enough to cover the past two days of Thanksgiving? Now there is a challenge.
I guess that, if there had to be a moment that speaks most clearly to the meaning of Thanksgiving, it would have to be around 4:30 Friday afternoon, standing in the kitchen with Rebekah, and looking across the bounteous spread at 27 wonderful people. And - with no small degree of difficulty - taking a moment to give thanks.
To be honest, it's a moment that is always overwhelming. I don't appear to have the emotional capacity to handle - or, should I say, contain - the raw volume of love. I can't nearly get my arms around it all, and so it spills out via a hesitancy in speech, a lump in my throat, and a mistiness in the eyes.
So Rebekah had to finish the prayer for me, and it became - as always - a shared blessing offered from hearts overflowing with gratitude for the privilege of participating in such a rich life.
Not many people have the honor of hosting such a rich and plentiful gathering of family of friends. Rebekah and I are, once again, most fortunate most favored and most exhausted.
In addition to the usual crowd (Joe's family, Jesse's family, Myrt, the Tim Black crew, my mum and dad, Lacey and Matt), my brother Geoff was able to be here this year, along with his daughter (my niece) Hannah, her husband Andrew and their children, Haley and Hudson. It was so good to have them. Faith, who is living with us, was another welcome addition, as well as our new(ish) neighbors, Bill and Carol - and then Andrew made the trip home all the way from Italy!
Then, as is our tradition, the Jesse Alexander Jacksonville family stayed overnight, children sleeping literally all over the floor. Scout was in heaven, just happy to have young people in her house.
In the evening, after the kitchen was fairly clear and before the Orlando Alexanders headed home, I asked if anyone wanted a cup of tea. Most of the 16 remaining said "Me!", and I made pot after pot, serving hot tea - English style - for a solid 30 minutes.
There's something profoundly peaceful about making and serving a cup of hot tea, and I repeated the ritual for Heather, Rebekah, Jesse, Lacey, Faith, Jordan, Andrew, Matt, Sarah, Jared... and then me. And I sat down on a soft chair to listen to the chatter, the laughter, the poetry, and the love, echo around the space.
And later, as Rebekah read bedtime stories to nieces and nephews too old for bedtime stories, Jesse and I pulled out guitars and played Amazing Grace, and I heard still more echos of Thanksgiving in pure chords and sweet harmony.
Pure chords and sweet harmony. Grateful hearts. The perfect prelude for Advent....
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3)