By Pastor Mark Lee
Millions of Americans will soon be giving thanks while gorging on platefuls of turkey. Although Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, this feasting tradition can be traced back several hundred years earlier to Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1621, Puritan settlers celebrated their first good harvest with an impressive banquet. The most remarkable aspect of this first Thanksgiving was that it was made possible by the region’s natives. Despite their obvious differences, the Wampanoag people had helped the settlers survive.
While it is highly likely that the natives were concerned by the Puritans, they overcame their suspicions and reached out. Over the next several weeks, it is possible that many of us will find ourselves in a similar position. Statistics reveal that one of the most stressful aspects of the holiday season is family. Ancient hostility and old offenses can leave us feeling hurt, angry or anxious. And, while our complicated relationships are avoidable throughout the year, the holidays often make them inescapable.
Skipping Thanksgiving dinner with the family may be tempting, but the reality is that we all eventually come in contact with “haters.” When doing so, we need to be honest and apologetic about the role we play in the discord. And, above all, we need to give grace to those who have wronged us. After all, how many times have you regretted something you have said or done that was unkind?
One of the most powerful ways to combat tension is with kindness. In Luke 6:35, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great.” Imagine how shocked the settlers were when the natives lent a helping hand. Now, imagine how shocked Grumpy Uncle Bob would be if you gave him the last piece of pumpkin pie. What could be sweeter than a peaceful holiday season?
VantagePoint Church meets at Roosevelt High School on Sundays at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.