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An Extra Seat

Thanksgiving week. That time of year where we pack a span of few days with family reunions, scheduled menus, designated turkey carvers, stretchy pants, holiday cheer, and going around the table answering “what are you thankful for?” And as we respond back with a generic list such as family, a home, laughter, friends, this food, my dogs, etc., it all ties back to one thing: comfort. It’s a feeling of security, a state of freedom from pain, it’s the lingering smile in response to things when thought about.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have. But, it’s the very act of giving thanks that invites us into an active approach of recognition and expression often times around a table of people we know and love. It’s sharing. It’s giving. Comfort, after all, is experienced in tenfold when we are also cognizant of the misery.

But let’s just take a second to consider the reality of a lot of people. The ones who lack peace of mind, who do not have a subscription to happiness, and are uprooted from community. Everyone can give thanks, but sometimes it’s a lot harder for others to do.

The image of “building a longer table” was introduced at the beginning of this year. As the holidays near, we look forward to sitting around the table with people we love, with new additions to the family, with those who come from broken relationships, with those who have experienced redemption, with people period. One thing we can practice is the physical and spiritual act of adding chairs to the table, creating a welcoming atmosphere and a larger space for those who may not have a seat reserved for them. Despite not having any reservations, you can be the person who sets an extra placemat for them at the table, one that signifies a community and a family.

So instead of being thankful on a traditionally designated time of year, let’s make it the expression throughout our lives. To be thankful doesn’t mean to be happy all the time, but it’ll get us closer to true joy. How? It is the enhancement of joy because of our struggle through pain. To be thankful will open our eyes and make tender our hearts. To be thankful will make it easier to heal rather than stay bruised. To be thankful will allow room for growth and time for holding hands with one another. To be thankful is celebrating and embracing, even when there’s suffering.

Maybe a good starting place for us to declare thankfulness is by remembering our God who has shown us loving friendship and has invited us to joyfully and fully partake at his banqueting table. And it is besides him where there is room for everyone.

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