Isaiah 25:6-7, The Message
“But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will throw a feast for all the people of the world, A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines, a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts."
Several years ago a commercial caught my attention. As I share the details here, I want to encourage you to see yourself somewhere in the advertisement. The scene opens with a women standing in the rain, with an umbrella in one hand, and with the other flagging down a cab. She closes her eyes, sniffs the air and gently clicks her heals together three times and without saying a single word you can hear Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz saying “There is no place like home, there is no place like home”. The next scene is a business man enjoying a coffee break, he closes his eyes, sniffs the air and clicks the heels of his shoes together….this pattern continues with a child reading a book in the library, a young women waiting for a train, a farmer on the field, then a college student in a lecture hall, a man on the subway and finally a little girl waiting for her school bus….. she closes her eyes, sniffs the air and gently clicks her heels together three times. In the very next scene we see each person arriving home to freshly baked crescent rolls on the table. Off to the corner of the kitchen table you can see the little Pillsbury dough boy peeking in on the family with a sort of wink of the eye. The commercial ends with a picture of the home and in Holiday Print, just over the top of the Pillsbury logo, in script “Home is Calling”. It’s a brilliant commercial, not a word is spoken, but it instantly brings to mind all the sights, sounds, and memories of Thanksgiving; a returning to Home.
And while this is a warm commercial that evokes joyful memories I am reminded that on the other side of this tale is another set of stories. Folks whose return to home will be met with pain. Folks who are barely making it, folks who reside in some sort of homelessness, folks wondering where their next meal will come from let alone all the sights, sounds, and smells of a traditional Thanksgiving. For these folks Thanksgiving doesn’t evoke warm fuzzy memories of crescent rolls. Thanksgiving Day serves as yet another barrier between those that have and those that do not. For them Thanksgiving is just another characterization of their own reality. Yet I am so encouraged to be part of a church community that seeks to narrow the divide. Over the last several weeks the Assurance community pooled together enough food supplies to provide 50 families a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal – a tangible reminder of God’s provision.
Thanksgiving evokes another image for me, an image of homecoming. Homecoming is different for each of us. Some are excitingly awaiting the return of their college student, others are anxiously awaiting family members while others see homecoming as a time of reconciliation; a time in which old wounds are mysteriously healed. Homecoming opens the door for those who have never felt welcomed in any family to be invited into God’s family. This is what homecoming is all about; this is what the bible is all about…..it’s about a journey, no matter where we are, we are all sniffing the air and clicking our heals with the hope of returning, returning home.
In a sense I would suggest the bible is a book about returning home. It preserves for us the memories that identify, and largely shape how we experience the present. It anticipates the glorious future. Our memories experienced through Thanksgiving, as are those in the bible, are preserved in what the future holds. One of the main themes of scripture is directed toward the future, that one day all God’s children will return home and feast at His heavenly banquet. In this way, God is more interested in what homecoming will look like at Jesus’ second coming rather than what Thanksgiving will look like for us now. From this perspective, homecoming, similar to the bible, presents a delicate interaction between past and future. Thus the future is both empowered and disciplined by the past but anticipates the fulfillment of what will be. This is where the community of faith resides, rooted in the present, reflective of the past but launched into God’s preferred future for all humanity. When we view Thanksgiving in this light it becomes this very sacred place, where our memories of yesterday have the power to equip our hope for tomorrow.
It’s my hope and prayer, as we celebrate this year we see something much bigger in Thanksgiving. We see God’s fullest desire to welcome us home as we feast at the Great Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving fully embraces a returning to home, when the body of Christ actively participates with God in bringing his children home, then and only then can we align ourselves with the Pillsbury Dough Boy, a modern day prophet, “Home is Calling.”