November 26, 2015
The scripture is full of people hoping for a better life, looking for a place to call home. Abraham and Sarah pull up stakes in Mesopotamia and walk toward Israel with little more than an insistent, internal voice saying, “Go!” Moses and the Hebrew people move from slavery in Egypt to a new wilderness, and understandably wonder if they’ll ever reach the promised land. Centuries later, forced into exile by an occupying army, our ancestors lie down and weep for the country and the customs they’ve had to leave behind in Zion. Even Mary and Joseph are on the run as she delivers a baby, who we’re told never really had a “place to lay his head.” Over and over again, our spiritual forebears were lost in a strange land, hungry for friends and food.
I’ve been thinking about that lately, as millions around the world are on the move, forced from their homes, looking for a better life. Their story is our story. Maybe only time and distance separate us from families who are refugees this week.
What are your plans for Thursday? I hope you’ll gather around a table of light and warmth. I hope you’ll squeeze your loved ones. I hope you’ll count your blessings and pray for the wisdom to use them well. At some point this week, I also hope all of us will consider the dark places in our lives that we can miss or ignore—the relationships that are broken or hostile, the work that has grown stale or barren, the deserts where our neighbors are cold or hungry, the so called “enemy” who upon closer look has the eyes of our brother. God is there in the dark and the light, looking for you and leading you home.
Goethe’s dying words were, “Light, light, let there be more light,” but when the 20th century Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno reflected on Goethe’s words, he said, “It’s not more light we need, but more warmth.” And he continued, “Warmth, warmth, more warmth! We die of cold, not of darkness. It is not night that kills, but the frost.”
Thanksgiving conjures up all kinds of feelings of longing—for everyone to have a place, for plenty of food and wine for celebration, for safe harbor, for folks to take us in, for dignity and justice and peace at last. If we have eyes to see it, there is warmth and light and living water to share with every stranger and every friend, this week and always. All of us are people called to make sure that no one is hungry or lost or alone. We practice it here in worship, but the point is to go out from this place with the vision and the courage to make every table where we gather a place of welcome and grace.