Most of us want to be “home for the holidays”. Just think of the record 54 million people AAA expects to travel for Thanksgiving! But “home” has meant different things for us over the years.
For younger generations, it means a trip to ancestral homes. It could be Mom and Dad’s House, while for others, Grandma and Grandpa’s house. For older generations, it often meant having most of the family under one roof again. Unfortunately, in our mobile times, it is a rare family that can have all generations under one roof.
Today, we live in an era of COVID and politicization. “Home for the holidays” can bring fear of family conflicts breaking out because of our highly politicized environment. Over the last few years, more than one article offers tips on how to survive deep-rooted emotional differences around the family table. We face the added concerns of differing stances concerning masks and vaccinations.
Although far from universal, I remember when many would make a point of going to God’s House on Thanksgiving. But that seems to be a thing of the past with the declining place of religion in so many lives.
Going to God’s House
The psalmists looked forward to going to the house of God. “I rejoiced with those who said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122
The joy of going to God’s house
The Psalmists associated going to the House of God with the specific purpose of giving thanks and praise to God. For the Psalmist and those who lived in earlier times, giving thanks and praise meant going to Temple.
There is something heartfelt about going to God’s house… about deliberately setting a time to be in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
A grandparent looking forward to the presence of children and grandchildren at Thanksgiving once said, “I now understand just how happy God must be when we arrive at God’s house.”
The experience of love in God’s House
This same grandparent offered another insight.
God’s place is a grace place where we know we will be accepted and loved forever. We know that the grace of God is not limited to just one generation but is a love that continues down through the generations.
God’s place is a place where we can slow down enough to know God’s love for us is unfailing and where God does not deal with us as we deserve. God’s place is where God is like a father who is tender and compassionate toward his children. (Psalm 103)
Current realities get in the way of going into God’s house
There is just so much to do before, during, and after the annual celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.
It is unlikely the kids hurried out to the car to buckle themselves up all the while expressing a deep longing to get to church as soon as possible. It is unlikely that any of us went to bed the night before dreaming of spending the morning in the blessed presence of God and each other.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if together we could find the joy that fills the psalmist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our prayer before we eat came from someplace deep inside us?
Making time for thanking God
But perhaps we can …
- Remember to thank God for our blessings as we sit down together.
- Find time during the weekend to pause for a bit, go up to God’s house to thank the God who loved us into being.
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk