4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
For years, Thanksgiving was hosted by my parents. We’d go to Aunt Shawn’s for Christmas, Aunt Dara would host Easter, my mother would host Thanksgiving. I have many fond memories of stirring potatoes or folding napkins, trying to make my mother’s vision come to life. I remember going from thrift store to thrift store with my mother trying to find the perfect dish set that would serve all 14 of us. 2015 was the last time Thanksgiving looked that way. In 2016, my mom was in a coma, she died in 2018, in 2019 I was in Switzerland, I gained a stepfamily, then in 2020 Covid hit, Aunt Dara died, then in 2021 I found my now husband.
Throughout the years between 2015 and now, there were many attempts to recreate what once was. I have a memory of what I think was Thanksgiving 2016 or 2017 where we tried so hard, but the room felt dark and the mood very low. Someone sobbed at the dinner table. I didn’t celebrate when in Switzerland, then all the years since, we’ve worked on navigating our family, my stepfamily, and my new family. In order to enjoy what now could be with these new family members and traditions, I had to let what once was go. It wasn’t coming back.
I find hope in today’s text from Philippians. There were Thanksgiving’s where “being glad” was not going to be possible. But those seasons don’t last. God remained and carried me through. I brought up many prayers and petitions to God and always found something, no matter how small, to be thankful for. Those things grew back again, not as they once were, but in new and exciting ways. Ways that are excellent and admirable, true and holy and pure and lovely and worthy of praise – and have found new peace, family, and thanksgiving.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Maybe you’ve been following the same rich traditions for years. Maybe, things have been very difficult and lonely lately. Maybe there’s something new to be thankful for this year. What season are you in? Where is God in your life today?
Prayer: God, today we give You thanks for more than we could ever name. Thank you. Amen.