george hancock stefanYesterday afternoon I drove from our house to the Newark airport. This year, some of our kids are going to be on the West Coast for Thanksgiving and some will be on the East Coast. We will all be together with family, but our family will be celebrating in two different places. As I took the exit for the airport, I saw many others leaving for different destinations. All the lanes in front of the airport terminals were busy. My daughter remarked that if it is so busy on Tuesday, it will be even busier on Wednesday when most people are leaving for their destination.

On Wednesday evening, we will gather together with believers from other churches. The pastors will process down the church aisle to the traditional song “Come Ye Thankful People, Come.” While most people in the United States are no longer living in an agrarian society, this traditional song reminds us that we should be a thankful people. Even though most of us do not work as farmers, we are well off because we have abundant food in this land. The trucks on our highways carry fresh food from various parts of this country, and even from nations around the world.

As I read various articles post-election, I discovered that some family members are disinviting people from their Thanksgiving table because of their comments during the election. The only other time when this is recorded in our history is during the Civil War when families were split between the South and the North. In our home, we have never followed that old adage to not discuss politics and religion at the table. While talking about these topics can be divisive, where do you learn to argue and defend your political and religious views with passion and kindness if not at the family table? In fact, we seem to have the opposite rule – a new boyfriend can earn a place in the family if he can hold his position at the dinner table. We did not have to agree with them, but they had to present their points well. (Thus far we have two sons-in-law who can hold their own and we will see who the other two will be!)

I enjoy hearing about Thanksgiving traditions in various families. It is interesting to find out who cooks the turkey, who carves the turkey, who brings the mashed potatoes or the pies, and who says the family prayer. There are stories of making traditions and there are times when traditions are passed from one generation to another. There are also funny stories of dropped turkeys, spilled gravy, and burnt oysters. When those things happen, it makes some people unhappy in the moment but they create the family stories that will be passed from one generation to another.

So whether you travel or you stay home, whether you have a large gathering or a small one, may you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving. Give thanks to the Lord for His bounty on your table and give thanks for the people who are there to share it with you.


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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...