Needless to say, thanksgiving is a holiday in America that is truly mixed with deep passions: the desire to celebrate family, a deep sense of revisionism regarding how the country was founded, the primacy of God’s favor upon our country in reference to others, and the consumerism (eat till you burst, watch TV till you go blind, etc.) that frames everything in the neo-pagan era. For the record, I love Thanksgiving as a celebration of ‘giving thanks’ and will go into today’s gluttony with such a spirit. That said, the razors edge between celebration and disgust at our gluttony still haunts me a bit.
I have been thinking a lot these days about the nature of family in the NT. Jesus continually refers to ‘blessing’ (GK: markarios = blessed; blessing) as located where the poor, the hungry, the widow and orphan reside. The so-called ‘nuclear family’ of modernity is not even figured into this picture. To be ‘blessed’ is NOT to ape nor fetishize the status of the poor and marginalized (I can hear John Cleese’s refrain as Robin Hood in Time Bandits in all its absurdity: “The poor are going to be absolutely thrilled. Have you met them at all? Oh you must meet them. I’m sure you’ll like them. Of course they haven’t got two pennies to rub together but that’s because they’re poor”) – rather, we are to go TO the poor and marginalized and dwell there, for that is the address of blessing… not us.
Does Thanksgiving promote self-congradulations (ain’t it great to be us today?!) or do we sit in silence at our full to overflowing tables and reflect on the fact that for many of us, we are not sitting at the right table nor with the right people if God’s blessing is something we hunger and thirst for more than turkey?