By Todd Kangas, MPE President
Thanksgiving is our favorite family holiday. We try to model Biblical hospitality for our children. We’ve encouraged them to find someone alone or lonely and invite them even as Pat and I have done for years.
People yearn for connection, companionship and camaraderie. Holidays manifest a greater sense of loneliness when people are living outside a family connection.
We’ve had people we’ve met from school, work, hobbies, and church accept our invitation. One young man came to our home because he had just been released from prison and wasn’t allowed to leave the state.
Let me describe a typical Thanksgiving.
First, my wife Pat gets the day off from cooking and cleaning. The family steps up to clean the house, set up the tables for places to eat and create name tags by the plates and to wear.
My oldest daughter, Corrie, and I do all the cooking and ask our guests to bring some holiday favorite they like to eat and share. I will cook two big turkeys each year, one in the oven and one smoked. Corrie is the master of garlic mashed potatoes, turkey stuffing, plus other dishes.
The goal is to eat around noon, turkeys willing. Before the meal, I give a quick overview of why we celebrate Thanksgiving, sharing the Christian heritage established by the Pilgrims. Then we gather and pray, thanking God for His gracious blessings.
Here are two samples:
- Ps 145 – “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.”
Question: One generation shall praise your works to another. This speaks of a family legacy. How has your family taken steps to pass on faith or traditions to you, or how are you trying to do so for your family?
- Isaiah 12 – “Then you will say on that day, ‘I will give thanks to You, O Lord; For although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid…'”
Question: As we see, it is in God’s nature to comfort. What brings comfort to you or where do you turn to be comforted?
After going through these questions, we have had people voluntarily praying for one another at some tables. One man was crying at the table having been so touched. It was amazing to see the ministry to people’s hearts.
Dinner is followed by dessert. And then we may adjourn to go outside and play football or sit around and talk and play games.
An older gentleman who is an introvert was sitting by himself and a young man went to him and began a conversation. Then they started playing a card game. This gentleman was truly blessed. I was also to see my son reach out to a lonely man.
We are teaching our children to sow love. To sow kindness. To sow in serving. They are following these Biblical principles:
- Rom 12:10-13, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”
- Heb 13:1-2, “Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…”
Each Thanksgiving we open our home. We had 45 people a few years ago. From KC, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, India, Singapore, New Zealand, China, and Egypt. Some were local students who didn’t have anywhere to go for the day.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach out and to develop lasting family memories. This is not mission impossible, but it can be bringing the mission field to your home. Pray about finding ways to create a family legacy of hospitality and service. It is more blessed to give than receive.