Missing Thanksgiving

img_0400Dr. Jon R. Roebuck, Executive Director

What’s wrong with Martha?  I mean, there she is, welcoming Jesus into her home but when the moment comes to sip a little “Living Water” she’s too busy in the kitchen to even notice.  You remember the story well.  According to Luke 10:38-42, Jesus has come to the home of Mary and Martha.  Mary sits at His feet, listening to every word that flows from His mouth.  Martha is in the kitchen, distracted with all her preparations.  She must have been from the South… she cares deeply about hospitality, decorum, and good food.  She and Paula Dean would have been best friends.  She spends the day fussing over the meal while her sister spends the day in the company of Jesus.  Jesus even tells Martha when she comes to complain about Mary’s behavior that Mary has spent the day more wisely.

I’ve read that story a thousand times but have refused to see myself reflected in its image.  Until now.  I’m fearful that I am playing the part of Martha this thanksgiving, because that’s how I usually spend the holiday.  Thanksgiving at our house is a big deal.  Because our home is more centrally located than my wife’s siblings’ houses, we host the family in our home for a few days each year.  It used to be easier when the kids were little and you could sleep all seven on a blanket on the floor.  But now the kids are grown and some are married and some even have kids of their own.  We have to plan through work schedules, nap times, and airline fights just to attempt a thanksgiving meal for all 19 of us.  Ages will range from 2 weeks old to 90 years.  I even built a set of corn hole games for the weekend painted with Alabama and Auburn logos, after all it is Iron Bowl week.  It gets a little crazy… especially when you are hosting the event.  Many of you have experienced some of the same dynamics.

I have discovered through the years, that if I am not careful, I will spend more time fussing over the meal than I will in spending the day in the company of my family.  I worry about having enough ice, a well-cooked turkey, a clean house, and a raked yard.  I want everything to run smoothly and be ready for company.  (The last two years we have even added the stress of having the house decorated for Christmas before the Thanksgiving crowd arrives.)  I have to rethink the question of purpose.  Why do we do what we do at Thanksgiving?  Is it really all about the food we consume, the house we clean, and the paper goods we buy… or is it about the company that we keep?

This year I’m going to attempt to worry less about the details and focus more on my family.  I have no doubt we will have plenty to eat.  I’m not worried about having enough beds for everyone to sleep.  I’m not even going to stress if the dishes pile up in the sink.  Maybe I will have the time to even reflect on the things for which I am most grateful.  Surely that’s a better way to spend the season.  It’s time to get out of the kitchen Martha… the best things are happening in the next room.