Within a few hours, one of my favourite weekend’s of the year will be history. I have never had a Thanksgiving weekend like this. For the first time that I can remember, I did not have a traditional Thanksgiving — not at home, no turkey and timmings, no large family gathering. The reason for this is that I left for assignment just before the Thanksgiving weekend. Enroute, I spent some time with children and grand-children and to share in a special ceremony in Calgary in which my new son-in-law was sworn in to be an official lawyer within Alberta. So I planned to be in the church where I am doing some pastoral transition work for Sunday.
Thanksgiving this year was an occasion to think about Thanksgiving in a whole other way. Instead of family coming to see us, I was able to go and see them and count the blessings of their lives and relationship. I so enjoyed playing with three of our grand-children on Thursday and then of being with three others for a few hours on Friday. I loved the Bar Call ceremony and the great things that were said about Josh Fraese, our son-in-law. I especially liked the way the presiding judge explained the seriousness of this call and the responsibility that Josh and all lawyers had to uphold the law impartially. It brought to mind the words of God to Moses in Deuteronomy 16:18-20 or of Jehosophat in 2 Chronicles 19:4-7 not to pervert justice and to do this work faithfully and on behalf of the Lord God of Israel.
It was a strenuous weekend because after the ceremony I had to rise early the next day to travel to my place of service to spend the day making final preparations for the Thanksgiving Service. The Service was well-attended and a high-point in my Thanksgiving weekend as together we gave thanks for God’s goodness in a variety of ways and reminded ourselves of how thanksgiving is really a defining element of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. After that meaningful Service I made my way back to Calgary to spend a little more time with my daughter and her husband, since they were also alone this Thanksgiving. Since they pursue a vegan diet, we did not have a traditional turkey, but they did graciously accommodate me with a special dish of lamb in the context of an East Indian meal. It was wonderful to share these important moments and goodies together.
Somewhere in the midst of all the activities of the weekend I managed to acquire a cold and so I so appreciated the extended rest I was able to have on Thanksgiving Monday morning. It was a blessing to be able to discuss and solve some problems together before enjoying a Vietnamese lunch at a restaurant and then heading back for three hours of travel to Golden. Here, as usual, I was well-recieved by my hosts who also entertained a couple who dropped in for a visit just after supper. What a wonderful experience to share Christ together with these new acquaintances as we talked about the wonder of God’s creation and His plan in the Gospel. The icing on the cake for the weekend was to visit with my wife on the phone for a short time.
This Thanksgiving, I realized anew that I don’t have to have a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in order to be reminded of the wonder of all that God has done for me. Sometimes, I came to see, that God has other means of reminding us of how important Thanksgiving is. I think I have a new appreciation of the need to be thankful in the midst of unknowns and difficulties because as we experience this grace in our lives, God is able to turn challenges into blessings.