Preparation is probably the most underappreciated yet invaluable part of a great Thanksgiving celebration. If you’ve ever been a part of a home anticipating a crowd, especially a crowd expecting a feast, football, and a place to fall asleep, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
What I have observed lately, though, is a couple of instances of how to prepare a "turkey" of another sort – that is, a failure or a person that is inept.
Example #1 – My favorite football team, the Denver Broncos, are preparing some of their key players to live in fear. Rather than trust players like Montee Ball and Trindon Holliday to bounce back, hold on to the ball, and do what they’ve been trained and gifted to do, the coaches decide to go another route. Rather, because they had fumbled earlier in the game (and, admittedly, have had issues in the past) they put in people with less experience (CJ Anderson) or different roles (Wes Welker). The result is two-fold – you get less reward on the front end because those aren’t the best at their position AND you put fear as the main motivation for Ball and Holliday. I believe last night’s game was lost because of an inexperienced Welker NOT calling his teammates off in time. He wasn’t as much a part of punting practice, he has other roles that he’s concerned about, and he has his former home crowd to deal with as well. Now, Ball and Holliday are prepared to play in fear of the “one more fumble” that could cost them their job, rather than playing out of a love for the game and a confidence that they are capable of doing their job and doing it well.
Example #2 – One didn’t need to watch the American Music Awards to know that sex would be a theme and outlandishness would be the norm. When the news programs the next morning use words like “gyrating” and “cybercat” you know the kind of feast our current generation is feeding on. Current trends of living together, friends with benefits, and the acceptance of “soft porn” into the mainstream is exactly what we have been preparing for the last 40 years or so. The results are obvious . . . the question is relevant – when will we stop feeding on impulse and start speaking to the heart? According to history, we won’t, until the results get beyond our control. Now, we are living in a world where we don’t know how to listen to things that matter or pursue things that are true because we’ve been fed falsities for far too long.
Yesterday, in our little town of 3500, a group of us pastors gathered the community for a Thanksgiving Prayer and Praise Service. All but one of the churches was involved and an Evangelical pastor (me) was able to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in a Catholic church building. About 100 people gathered from the different congregations as we tried to prepare them for a Thanksgiving with purpose. Outside of the reality that Jesus is the only way for us to get to God (see I Timothy 2:5-6), Thanksgiving becomes a time where we just end up eating lots, thanking each other (or no one in particular), and never acknowledging the YOU that we are supposed to be saying THANK YOU to.
Today, we are each preparing for what's next by what we choose to focus on:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Have a GREAT Grateful Thanksgiving!