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‘What are we offering up?’

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, the reality is that some tables may have been empty due to poverty. Some will be empty due to loved ones being lost. Some will be empty because bitterness exists among the family members.

Then again, the table may be full. The table may be full, but it may also be full of bickering.

The table may be full, but it may be sprinkled with anger or hostility or jealousy.

For some people, some individuals, some families, Thanksgiving brings no joy. There is no sharing or selflessness or having communion with one another.

They have the same opportunity as other families and other individuals. They could probably break bread with another person or group of people, but something else is in the way. Something is stopping them from sitting at that table with another person or other people. Perhaps they have forgotten how to be thankful. Maybe they have forgotten or don’t know what they have been given. They can’t offer up thanksgiving to God or those around them simply because they don’t know how to offer it or recognize that they need to.

So our question becomes, “What is my Thanksgiving offering?” What am I offering to those around me as we gather this Thanksgiving season?

Am I offering up peace or hostility? Am I offering up hope or desperation? Am I offering up anger or forgiveness? Love or hatred? What is it I am offering to those at the “table” around me? Do I actually come before the Lord with thanksgiving, and do I show thanksgiving towards others?

The Apostle Paul encourages the church body with these words found in Philippians 2:1-4

“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Paul urges the readers of this passage to search themselves. To take inventory of themselves. For us, as well as those early Christians, we have to ask ourselves, “Have I experienced encouragement, comfort, love, tenderness or compassion (grace and mercy as well) from my savior?” and if the answer is “yes,” then I have some moderate amount of obligation to share in that with others. I have some duty as a follower of Christ to show the same towards others.

It is my hope that we can all learn to offer up our very best towards our God, our friends, our families and yes, even our enemies, not just this Thanksgiving, but every day to come.

REV. BARRY VASSAR is pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist. He can be reached at fitzgeraldmemorial@gmail.com.