The 4-Corner Covering of Our Thanksgiving Tables
“Righteousness and justice are the foundations of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, LORD. They rejoice in Your name all day long; they celebrate Your righteousness” (Psalm 89:14-16 NIV).
***Read to the end to discover a way to possibly win a wonderful Advent gift!***
Tomorrow we’ll celebrate the holiday that features a feast–turkey and all the trimmings, likely laid out on most Thanksgiving tables.
It’s a time to pause, give thanks, and remember those who came before, those who were first instrumental in establishing the nation many call home. Unlike other major celebrations, whose origins are rooted in distant lands, this particular day is truly American–a truth that, for some, stirs pride. For others, shame. We have, after all, become such a divided nation.
But even for those who aren’t proud of our country, who find reasons to explain how our history is riddled with wrong-doing much more than finding good, seeing God’s providential finger in the tracing of a country’s birth, most will likely enjoy participating in the festivities tomorrow holds. The parades. The food. And, of course, football.
It’s not often that our family has the blessing of a Thanksgiving guest not from our country, but tomorrow’s an exception. We will host our cousin Derek and his new bride Melissa. While Derek is originally from the same small Ohio town we’re from, Melissa’s only recently moved to American. From France, I wonder if this is indeed her very first Thanksgiving. I’m fairly certain it is, and I’m excited to get to know her… tomorrow.
But today? The next 12-hours will be full of preparations–pie-making, bread-baking, and dressing made ready for the next day’s oven. I may even get a jump start on gravy, as it never seems we have enough from the turkey broth. (Thankful for chicken stock, which is nearly as good!)
I love this day. For us, it marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Though we usually put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, Christmas music and movies begin–Bing Crosby crooning as I work in the kitchen. I’ll wear Grandma’s apron, and our pilgrim couple will make their appearance–having been purchased more than fifty years ago by Grandpa Frank, discovering them at Benjamin Franklin’s five and dime.
Dogs will salivate as they smell good things simmering, and they’ll be given an extra treat or two. We are, after all, very thankful for them.
The kitchen counters will be sticky from spills, flour scattered about, clinging to bread boards and rolling pins. It will indeed be general chaos, but the joy! (Did I mention I love this day?)
I’ll likely begin planning seating arrangements too. Although our farmhouse table can comfortably seat eight, ten if folks don’t mind being cozy, we’ll need some extra space to comfortably seat us, plus our twelve guests. That means pulling out the round, cherry, drop-leaf table, which seats four to six–the one we purchased at an auction years ago. All proceeds went to help a child from China in need of surgery to correct a cleft palate, something I’ve never forgotten.
All this table-talk perhaps seems trivial. Why tell us about it? some might ask.
But here’s the answer. This morning as I prayerfully pondered all these personal preparations, thinking, too, more broadly about others’ tables, as well as that first Thanksgiving table so long ago, I turned to Psalms, quite randomly, in fact. And there before me in Psalm 89 were four words that perfectly express what I pray is the covering of our Thanksgiving tables–tomorrow and every day.
I smiled and thanked God, hearing His voice in my heart. His message stirred in my soul as He spoke to me through His Word about the celebration we’re preparing to experience–as if the quartet jumped right off the page.
First, may our Thanksgiving table invite righteousness–in our conversations tomorrow, as well as in our recollections days down the road, as we recall the memories made at our gatherings. May our speech be edifying, building up others despite differences, bringing glory to God.
Just as Job 29:14 says–
I put on righteousness as my clothing…
May our table covering be righteousness–that right conversations, filled to overflowing with thankfulness, may be what’s remembered most, even days into the future. As the Psalmist sings in his twenty-second song (v. 31)–
They will proclaim His righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
Now that’s a wonderful way to offer gratitude to our great God!
Secondly, may we invite justice to our Thanksgiving table. Indeed, there’s much injustice in our nation and beyond. Of this there is no argument. But who better to shine the light of justice than those who call Jesus their savior? After all, He was Himself justice in an unjust world–coming for the lost, the forgotten, the poor, and the needy. Yes, He came for all!
Perhaps you could invite another to share in your meal, someone who would otherwise spend it alone. Consider purposefully inviting someone you might not typically seek out as a friend, someone who holds different political views than you. Who’s from a different background, holding varied beliefs.
This is not to invite argument but, rather, an exercise in generosity. In peace-keeping. In Jesus-love.
As Job 29:14 continues–
I put on… justice [as] my robe and my turban.
May our table covering be that of justice–seeking, if merely in word alone (though our words are no small matter), to breech a gap, mend a wound, open a heart by offering the love of Christ. After all, we’re to be like Him. As the prophet Isaiah exhorted in Is. 30:18–
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!
Yes, blessed are all who extend an invitation to others, exemplifying Jesus through justice.
Third, may we invite love to our Thanksgiving table. This might mean refraining from hurtful conversation despite a captive audience. It might mean offering the last dollop of mashed potatoes to another, even though it’s your favorite and you only took a little the first go-around. It might mean being quick to jump up to help clean, even though you’d love a break from dishes because you do them every other day of the year. In the words of Bob Goff, love does. Thus, it’s a verb, but it’s also a person.
As I John 4:7-8 tells us–
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God… Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
May our table covering be love, love, and more love! Use your time gathered to love one another well, seeking ways to spread it lavishly, like apple butter on homemade bread, because again–
God is love!
Finally, may we invite faithfulness to our table. Stay faithful to your beliefs, despite the differences others might bring. Stay faithful to your family and friends by choosing to refrain from acting upon or saying something you might later regret. Mostly, stay faithful to the One who’s really the centerpiece of this day. Above all, He’s to be celebrated, because He alone is the Giver of all good gifts–the One to receive our gratitude.
As the psalmist proclaims in the 106’s song (v.1 NLT)–
Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Yes! May all our tables be covered with God’s faithfulness!
And again, may they be covered at all four corners with–
How might you cover your table accordingly this year? Would love to hear!
(Please share in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift–Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Drawing will be held on 12/1/21, just in time for Advent.)
Dear Jesus, may You be the Light in every candle, the Bread of Life on all our plates, the Living Water in each and every goblet. We welcome You, most precious Guest, to all our Thanksgiving tables. May we honor You in all our ways. Amen.
(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible passages taken from the NIV.)