Jesus’ Guide to the Thanksgiving Table

Tomorrow we will gather with family, friends, loved ones…and in some cases antagonists, enemies, some EGR (extra grace required) relatives, believers and non-believers alike, to celebrate the gifts we’ve been given as individuals, families and a nation. 
If you follow Jesus then follow him to the table as well. Here are some lessons he modeled in his final holiday meal.

1. Approach with the end in mind.  (John 13:1)

Jesus, knowing that His hour had come, that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

As challenging as some personalities may be, consider how you might see them differently if you knew it would be the last meal you would share together. We tend to have a more gentle gaze in retrospect. Prepare your heart and mind this season by considering the blessings each person’s presence has brought to your life.

2. Serve with humility. (John 13:3-4)

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.

One of the secrets women keep is that the best part of any holiday actually happens around the kitchen sink. That multi-generational, post-game wrap up, the connections that are formed, the old family secrets that get shared…that is the best part of any gathering…even when it’s work.

While holiday mealtimes are time consuming, costly and messy, such is the nature of love. If we tenderize our hearts properly in advance for the tasks ahead we are more likely to find the joy and blessings that come from serving those we love.

And remember, what we demonstrate in service our children will watch and model as they go into the world.

3. Give thanks. (Luke 22:19)

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them…

Jesus began every meal by acknowledging and thanking the Father, the Provider of all our needs. With all the time and energy we invest in food and drink will we invest also in preparing and offering proper thanksgiving to the Lord for his abundant blessings?

4. Love unconditionally. (John 13:21)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.”

Jesus never lets us off the hook. As you consider that person with whom you’d just as soon not break bread it’s hard to ignore that Jesus shared his final meal with a close friend who was engaged in a deep and deadly betrayal. Against this example, Aunt Rosie’s obnoxious comments quickly grow pale. Loving like Jesus means loving those who curse you, hate you, and yes, even greatly annoy you.

Jesus ended his final meal with these parting words. May they marinate our hearts as we approach our tables this holiday.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

Happy Thanksgiving!

Read more Thanksgiving posts7 Lessons for Giving Thanks.

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