Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving

Bob carving the turkey in 1993.
This week Thursday is American Thanksgiving.  This was Bob's favorite holiday.  Our most fond Thanksgiving memories were spending them with Dan and Beth Wilcox (Dan was Bob's best friend and spoke at the Memorial Service).  Bob loved trying new stuffing recipes - one of his favorites was stuffing with apples and dried cherries - but of course nothing could beat his mom's stuffing.  Each Thanksgiving was truly a feast.


Last week Tuesday was a Muslim holiday in Ghana, called "Eid-ul-Adha" or Sacrifice Feast, a day in which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as an act of obedience to God before God intervened and provided a ram instead.  [No, I didn't make a mistake - you read it right.  Muslims believe that Abraham was called to sacrifice his eldest child, Ishmael, not Isaac.]  On this Feast day, Muslim families slaughter an animal (depending on income level, it could be a cow, goat, sheep, pig), keep one third for their family, give one third to friends or neighbors, and give another third to the poor.


In my devotions last week, I spent some time in Isaiah 1: 13-20, where the Lord says,
"Stop bringing meaningless offerings!  Your incense is detestable to me.  New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations - I cannot bear your assemblies.  Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates.  They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight!  Stop doing wrong, learn to do right.  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.  Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord.  "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
I'm not trying to be a party pooper.  But I do wonder what God's attitude is this week as we approach Thanksgiving.  Is it a burden for Him?  Is He weary of it and looking forward for it to pass?

I am convicted that an attitude of thanksgiving, generosity, and justice is something that needs to permeate my entire life, not one day prescribed by a calendar.  I need to look at my own hands to see the blood.  The text goes on to talk about our rulers being rebels, loving bribes, chasing after gifts. I realize that the blood on their hands is mine to share as well.  One of Bob's favorite quotes from Martin Luther King was "all that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men to do nothing."

This, of course, leads me to what I am ultimately thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Forgiveness.  Grace.  Mercy.  The sacrifice God made through His Son, Jesus.  To begin each day anew, with the hope of doing better.  With the knowledge that when I screw up (not if), I can be forgiven and try again the next day.

But this Thanksgiving, I'm also very thankful for all of you.  I experienced the hands and feet of Christ through His body, the church, in so many ways this past year.  Your prayers, your emails, your comments on the blog...each one was an encouragement, reminding me that I'm not alone.  And I would be remiss if I didn't thank those of you who continue to give financially to support us in our work.  We absolutely couldn't be here without you.  Through you, we have food on our table, water in our cups; because of your partnership with our work, others have food on their table and water in their cups.  We pray that together, we can continue to "seek justice, encourage the oppressed."

May God bless you this Thanksgiving.

Here are some pictures of my beautiful children, for whom I am also very thankful!
Noah is learning bass guitar and is practicing every day.  Hannah is his first groupie:-).
Hannah getting ready to play her first soccer game of the year.  Doesn't she look great?
The game - if you pick up on the fact that it looks hot, let me assure you it was.  Playing from 11 am - 1 pm in 95 F heat was not easy. 

2 comments:

Elizabeth Jansen van Vuuren said...

Dear Reed family

As it's thanksgiving, and I haven't commented on your blog for ages, let me say: thanks for keeping this communication up. Renita, I've found your entries about your work fascinating and thought provoking. Hannah and Renita's reflections on living in Ghana and America spelled out so clearly much of what I sense about living here in South Africa (which is like both countries in one). And all of your sharing of your personal experiences during this very hard year ... thank you. We, your readers, do keep your in our prayers; remember Bob with you; learn from & with you about life, love and faith.
Elizabeth

Tom and Stacia said...

Love you Renita . . . you continue to spur me on to think and wrestle more deeply with what it means to be a follower of Christ here on earth! Thinking of you lots these days as you head into your first holiday season without Bob. So glad you keep writing about your memories and honoring this amazing man! All your descriptions of his cooking delights make me think my kitchen misses him! :-)