It was the worst Thanksgiving ever - even worse than the year I stayed at college over Thanksgiving instead of coming home. It was horrible. For the past three or four years, the family had been coming to my house for Thanksgiving. That year - there was no way to get that to happen. Mom & Dad & Grammaw had all decided they didn't want to share Thanksgiving with others who had just as much right to be in my home. I couldn't force anyone's hand - that wouldn't make any sense. I couldn't mend any bridges - in fact, there was no mending that could be done. The reactions, the preferences, were not completely unjustified on either side - including mine. I cried. Cried hard. My heart was breaking. Those I loved most in the world couldn't be together at the same time around the same table in my home. I love them all - felt equally drawn to welcome them all at my table - saw imperfections on all sides - understood where everyone was coming from - and, honestly, even on some level saw that it just must be that way. I tried blaming mom... it didn't work, even in my own mind.
Nothing could bring my family united in heart and mind and spirit to the Thanksgiving celebration around a table in my home, a symbol of the place of deep love and devotion I hold them all in. That Thanksgiving, we all did the best we could...and my heart was broken. The tears still come when I remember it.
Today is Sunday... how long will be break the heart of God this way? God, who calls us to Himself - seeing that we cannot gather around one table? How long will Christ see all that was won in and through ultimate love and untimate sacrafice divided, unforgiving of one another, with only platitidues and "forced" respect and affection for the sake of appearances?
My heart breaks each time I bow before the altar, each time I kneel in God's presence to remember Who He is, What He Did, How He Loves Us Still. I don't know how to gather the whole family together...but I must believe God does. I don't have the theological answers, don't know how to address the cultural divide that today seems even more insurmountable than the theological divides, don't know what to do always but to be at the table myself as best I know how...
...but I know what it feels like to try to gather my family together in one place only to find that - my table set, my love offered, I must offer it fully and completely to my family gathered at different times and different places. Surely I don't paint God's experience of the divided human family only with my own experience... but it must be somewhat the same by analogy.
Will you pray with me? Can we, in this action, unite ourselves at least this way?
God - We are divided. But we love You. We are honest and authentic in what divides us - all trying our own way to love and serve and listen to You as best we can. Save us from being divided for the sake of being divided. Save us from being divided because we can't be bothered any longer to wrestle with that which divides us. Save us from being divided because after all this time it has become comfortable. Save us from being divided beacuse we are lazy.
To the extent that we break Your Heart in our division, we are sorry. We love You. We trust You. We follow You. And we're not perfect. We take the good from Your hand, and the bad - knowing that the bad isn't You or from You, but trusting You work all things - the good from Your hand and the bad - for our good. And so - give us the grace to walk with Love and Authenticity toward You, and draw us to Yourself. And, when it be Your will, join us in Your house around Your table, for a Thanksgiving fully together with You and one another.
Peace be with you all.