By Pastor Pam Seebach
Harmony, Mabel, and Newburg United Methodist Churches
How many of us sat down around our Thanksgiving table recently and professed to be thankful for our families? We ARE thankful for family, but where do we go from there? Thankfulness is a good start, but Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” when confronted by the crowd of people seeking help. He went on to tell the crowd, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50) Our families extend far beyond the dining room table.
Speaking of dining room tables, how many of us ate too much on Thanksgiving? How many right now are gathering all the ingredients for favorite holiday cookies and treats? As we eat our way through a delicious holiday season, how many of us stop to remember all the families whose tables do NOT groan with food, but instead are laden with unpaid bills? When the disciples came to Jesus, concerned about the crowd of people who had gathered to hear Jesus speak, but had not brought food for dinner, Jesus told them, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples immediately shot back to Jesus their concerns about how it would take about eight months’ worth of their wages to buy sufficient food for that crowd. (Mark 6:35-37) We do the same, don’t we? When we stop to think about the many people in need, we first calculate how much money we can spare. The disciples brought the available food (five loaves and two fish) to Jesus, who “looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate until they were full.” (Mark 6:41-44)
The disciples learned a valuable lesson that day: when turning to God first in thanks, and trusting God for all things and in all circumstances, God provides. The small amount of food the disciples presented to Jesus was multiplied until it was MORE than sufficient. God can, does, and will do the same today. God can multiply the time we have, the resources we have, and the love we have to give when we turn to God in thanks FIRST. The next time you see a Salvation Army kettle, or hear the bell ringing, think of the families whose tables don’t have enough food. Give thanks to God, then open your wallet. (The Salvation Army is just one way to help.) Think of the families who don’t have all the chairs filled around the dining table; or think of the families without warm coats or boots. Christ is IN this Christmas season and the opportunities to share Christ’s love abound. Could you call or visit your neighbor who suffered a loss this year? Could you take a gift of food to the new folks down the block whom you haven’t met yet? Could you offer to watch the children of the harried mom or dad you see every day, to give them a break? Jesus said, “YOU give them something to eat.” Take time this holiday season to give someone something to eat – food for the heart, food for the tummy, or food for the soul. Make it thanks-giving every day.