Today’s Word from Rev. Dave Bieniek…

In past years, maybe even last year, we probably all have gathered with large groups of friends and families. Last year we had 18 around our tables! I wondered how long we would be able to continue to grow this event. How big could we let it get? As my mom would say, be careful what you ask for. So, in accordance with Governor Inslee’s order, this year there will only be four of us.

I feel Thanksgiving will take on an even more important role and meaning this year. I would like to ponder these two aspects individually.

The role of Thanksgiving has always been to help us to pause and reflect. It has been a twofold reflection of what we have and what sacrifices had to be made in order to get there. In the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims were thanking God for the food and abundance, for their friendship with the native neighbors who had taught them to farm, and for surviving the first brutal winter and harvest time in this strange new world. But they also remembered the sacrifices they had made leaving their old homes and countries, the many who had died on the trip over and since, the disease, malnutrition, and even violence that had taken lives too soon, and the family members they would never see again.

Since then Thanksgivings have come and gone in times of peace and war, in good times and in bad, in times of slavery and freedom. Sometimes our feasts have been prepared out of love and sometimes the feasts were prepared out of obligation. Sometimes our feasts came out of abundance. And sometimes the feasts have come out of scarcity, scraped together from what we could manage.

And that brings me to the second aspect of Thanksgiving – meaning. I have always believed that our lives, both physical and spiritual, only have the meaning that we find and ascribe to them. We bring meaning to life when we pause and look deeper. This has been a difficult eight months. We have lost much; life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness have really been curtailed for many in this country, in some respects literally. At the writing of this piece more than a quarter of a million Americans have died due to COVID. How dare we celebrate Thanksgiving?

But we must celebrate Thanksgiving! When we do, we celebrate their lives. We celebrate the sacrifices that healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, grocery store clerks and stockers, truckers, restaurant workers, farmers, butchers and meat packers, and all those who work to keep us fed and safe, make each day. We celebrate that even in the midst of a health crisis, we still have hope that a new dawn is coming.

And we celebrate in hope that next year we will again be able to gather with all of our friends and family and feel safe.

That is the meaning of Thanksgiving. That meaning is HOPE.

Happy Thanksgiving to you regardless of how and with whom you celebrate. Know that we each celebrate with you in our hearts and in Spirit and Love and Hope!

Pastor Dave