Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving...what is it good for?

I thought I'd continue with the budding nihilism on this board in the "what is it good for?" series. If anyone knows anything about me, it's that I'm always tempted by nihilism...but not today... Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of life. Ever since I was a boy I always tried to make thanksgiving the best day anyone could imagine. There were the plays that my brother and I put on, reenacting the "first thanksgiving", making hats of all sorts out of paper bags, bringing together indian and pilgrim just the way we were thought it happened at school. Then, while sitting around the table, I would make everyone say what they were thankful for before we started feasting. Also, after the first round of food, I would make everyone play the greatest game ever, 20 questions, where one person would be a person place or thing and everyone else could ask up to 20 yes or no questions to figure out who the person is. Finally, the rest of the day I would beat my brother at video game football, watch so much tv, and then fall asleep under a nice warm blanket in my heated homes to the sounds of loving family and many many things.

AND I REFUSE TO FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.

But shouldn't I? Aren't I carrying on as much as anyone else that, to quote dusty, "
We are the most conceited, wasteful, destructive culture this world has ever known, and we are only getting worse." Should not my stomach be turning over as I drink starbucks coffee, watch the ad campaign that is thanksgiving parades, and type on a laptop? Shouldn't I be repenting to every pro-military patriotic American that they are right that it is the perpetual war that represents modern american history that ensures my "security"?

I guess my point is this: we can and should be thankful for everything in our lives, and our thanks should be to those around us and to God who is the source of all good things. In the case of most everyone writing and reading on here, we have a lot to be thankful for. We're all eating something somewhere today. We're all warm enough. We're all able to access the internet. Paco, if anyone, would be able to question these things. But beyond just recognizing our surroundings, we have a biblical mandate to relax, enjoy the world, and realize that in so doing we are enjoying and worshiping God.

Jesus, while living his life on the road, stopped in a village to spend some time with some friends and take a load off of his weary feet. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her house and she had a sister called Mary, who sat around with Jesus, and listened to him talk with everyone else in the house. While she may have looked like she had no interest in serious matters, she just wanted to hear what Jesus was saying, trying to take it all in. Martha, however, was distracted with much serving, and she went up to Jesus and said, "doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me." But Jesus answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the right thing, which will not be taken away from her."

Let us not be overzealous for service, justice, and right living as we understand it. Jesus has shown the way. Let us learn what it means to be so radically present, living in thanksgiving and peace, that the powers are threatened not necessarily by our strong words or call to radical action but rather our simple life together. May we be a witness to another way, one in which the thanksgiving I have for my life of comfort overflows into the lives around me. Don't get me wrong, I agree with Dusty that faithfully following Jesus requires the rejection of all uses of military force or any allegiance to a body other than the church. But just as much it means being willing to take a seat on the floor, get under a blanket, and be with each other without complaining. It means going to someone's house and feasting as much as having the poor into the church to partake of the Eucharist (and then into our houses). It means drinking wine with friends as much as the consecrated wine of the Supper. It means honest and serious talk about all that is true and beautiful as much as it means serious talk about all that is broken and evil. It means being thankful for the day of Thanksgiving as well as speaking out against genocide, racial profiling, and selective historical memories. Finally, it means celebrating the peace that is present while strongly saying that the only true peace is the peace of Christ and our peace is in spite of the violent powers we live under, not because of it. The easy way is the way of the "unthoughtful evangelical" and the "righteously angry activist protestant," the hard way is the way of Jesus, where these things are all together.

What is more radical? Protesting our own lives or inviting someone into it? Which is more faithful, rejecting Americans or embracing the un-American? Am I more of a Christian if I move to the other side of the world to love someone or if I love the people around me? How can we even be asking this question? Have someone new into your home. Sit at their feet and talk. Or go sit by the feet of someone without a home. Let someone host you. Be thankful together for those things that America (or anyone else) has no control or say over; snow, animals, life, joy, peace, creation. Sometimes we're too busy in the kitchen, "serving," and we boldly go into the living room to tell Jesus to tell all the evangelicals or whoever else to get off their asses and do something and I think Jesus may be saying to us: "Midwest Mindset, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the right thing, which will not be taken away from her."

4 Comments:

At 11/24/2005 5:42 PM, Blogger Dan Baker said...

thanks Jake....

Truly pastoral, encouraging, challenging, comforting...

Today I am thankful for Food, family, teh grace of god for my unworthiness, Todd who I met today and had no one else to spend thanksgiving with, he has a kind heart, and your words Jake

I am enjoying the blessings that I have today..

 
At 11/24/2005 5:58 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

Yep,

Sweet Thoughts...I can't argue...this so accurately represents my struggle between figuring it out "right" and living within the life I live. Somethings I need to embrace and be thankful and some things I need to disengage.

good reminder

 
At 11/26/2005 12:11 AM, Blogger Liza said...

Ok, Jake, I like your thoughts here, because I followed through on most of them:
-didn't work
-cooked a lot
-ate way too much
-got kinda drunk
-fought with a friend
-went over to a neighbor's house
-drank some of said neighbor's wine
-went to bed with a headache
-read the bible in my last minutes

another thanksgiving that was UNSTOPPABLE! And I didn't feel bad.

 
At 11/26/2005 12:33 AM, Blogger JonAmos said...

this post is very convicting. i often get overwhelmed with social and theological dilemmas, and become cynical... pessimistic... ungrateful. thanks for the thoughts.

 

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