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In a few short days, families will be gathered around tables full of food for Thanksgiving. Some, like Rev. Tom Berlin, have wondered what this year’s Thanksgiving would hold after a stressful and contentious election. You can read Tom’s thoughts here.
Last year, during the primary season, it felt just as contentious. Saturday Night Live‘s sketch “A Thanksgiving Miracle” explored this same wondering. What could unite a divided family? What could stop the arguments across the table? SNL‘s miracle worker was the popular singer Adele, whose latest album was released at the same time.
- What are you most thankful for?
- When you hear family and friends use unkind words to talk about others or groups of people, how does it make you feel?
- Have you ever experienced a contentious Thanksgiving dinner? How did you handle it?
- Were you able to find unity across the table? What did that unity look like?
- There is a lot of division in the nation and in the church. In the SNL sketch, Adele is the great uniter at the Thanksgiving table. What, or who, unites us as a nation and/or a church?
- Read Ephesians 4:1-16. What is the core message Paul is writing to the Ephesians?
- As Christians, we have a unique oneness through our faith in Jesus Christ. Is that enough?
I wonder what the reaction would be in a Thanksgiving dinner scene similar to the SNL sketch if, instead of Adele, Jesus’ voice was heard. Too often, I fear, the words of Jesus would be debated as to what they actually mean, instead of collectively listening to Jesus. Division seems to have become a way of life in the 21st century, especially this past year. We as a people have spent more time divided over politics, theology, polity, doctrine, and more, than we have been united in the things we hold in common.
Paul is not naive. He understands, perhaps more than anyone else, that division is a reality in faith. Paul knows, as he writes to the Ephesians, that oneness is hard work. This is why we need all the parts of the Body of Christ, with all of our different perspectives and opinions, to come together at the table to create unity. Through this unity, we support and encourage each other.
However, what is lost is respect for each others’ differences. When we come together at a table – the Thanksgiving table or the Communion table – we come as sinners saved by grace. We come with our own experiences that have shaped our perspectives and opinions. What would happen if, when we come to the table, we willingly and openly heard each others’ stories?
Lord, God, thank you for the many blessings we have given us. May we see every day through eyes of gratitude, instead of eyes of division. May we be agents of unity in the midst of division. May we be willing to hear each others’ stories, as we seek to unite ourselves in you. Amen.