Sunday night Fairview and friends will sit down for a thanksgiving dinner. If past experience is an indicator there will be plenty of food, a true abundance, hopefully including large amounts of fellowship for all who come. Fellowship is the catchword for intentional church gatherings to draw the family circle wider. When we fellowship we mix up our socializing to include strangers and new folk so they can experience a place in the family.
Having attended many church dinners in a variety of places, I often have an outsider perspective. It has been interesting to see the chosen seating arrangements at these dinners, it is also very telling. Most church dinners resemble the lunchrooms of my child hood, some people have a seat saved for them, some people go straight for the empty table to avoid being rejected, and some people eat with the same people they might go out to dinner with, their friends. As the new kid in school or a visitor, I am always grateful for the person that helps me navigate the social order of the lunchroom or the fellowship hall.
At church dinners, my standing thanksgiving is for the people who help newcomers navigate and make room at their table for a stranger. This Sunday as we gather I hope there will be many navigators and people willing to make room, to include or visit a stranger. Last year we attempted assigned seating in order to mix it up; some people met new folks or learned more about each other and some people complained about the imposition. I get it, I like to visit with folks I know, and have fun with friends or gather with family but I also get that a church dinner needs to make everyone feel welcome.
This Sunday as we carry in our turkey, pies, and stuffing, et al, I urge everyone to carry in a large dish of gratitude for having an extended family called to supper by Jesus Christ and the opportunity to extend the family circle.
God bless all your thanksgivings.