Monday, December 1, 2008

What do you look forward to at the Thanksgiving table? What’s your favorite food item that’s going to be on the table? Is it the sweet potatoes? With the marshmallows that turn a glorious shade of brown on the top? Or is it the stuffing, with your family's special touch of seasoning and ingredients, that puts the finishing touch on the turkey? Or maybe you’re into the turkey itself, deep fried in peanut oil, brined just right, or roasted in the oven the way Grandma did it. Of course there's the cranberry sauce, whether it’s the fresh, raw cranberry salad that sits on my mom’s table, or cranberry served the way God wanted it to be served…on a plate, whole, jiggling in the sunlight, so you can see the little ridges from the can where it plopped out….

But what if there's nothing on your table this thanksgiving? How do you give thanks then? With our economy in the shape it’s in and with the country in an uproar about bailouts and meltdowns and with our 401k’s becoming 201k’s, many folks are looking at less on the table for which to give thanks. How do you give thanks when there's nothing on the table? The answer is that we have to look at the seat of thanksgiving--that we have to pay more attention to who is sitting in the chair than what is served on the table. What do I mean? Listen to this little snippet of Scripture:

"...the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, " Rev. 4:9

(Artist's rendition of Yahweh's Throne)

The angels give us the example--we can give thanks to the one who sits in the Seat of Thanksgiving, even if there isn't much on the table for which to give thanks.

After a number of years in the pastorate I came back to Virginia to help a good friend run his chain of high end jewelry stores. For two years everything was great. But with terrible fourth quarter sales in 2007, our bank called in their business lines of credit. They came in and confiscated the jewelry as collateral. After a valiant effort to liquidate the inventory, we threw in the towel in early July. I had to personally call the 35 remaining employees of our business and let them know that they were the latest victim of our economic downturn. I found out the next day that I had joined them among the ranks of the unemployed. So on the brink of a recession, on the cusp of the biggest drop in the stock market ever, I was sitting at home thinking about my wife, my 3 children, and wondering why the sky was falling. Maybe some of you have been in a situation like that, and maybe you have family who are in that spot. What do you do when the table is empty and the kids are asking questions and the bills are piling up? How do you give thanks then?

My wife Bridget had it right--during that period of time she said to me, “You’ve got to remember Jesus is still on the throne. He has got something better for you, I just know He does.” She like St. John urged me to lift my eyes, and see that despite all evidence to the contrary Jesus was still in the seat of thanksgiving, He was still sitting on his throne, and “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, “Because the throne is a symbol of power, and Jesus sitting on it means that He is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask think or imagine.

I don't know what's on your table this year, but from my own life and from the Scriptures I've been reminded that its more important to know who's sitting in the seat of thanksgiving rather than focus on what's on the table. We can give thanks to Him who sits on the matter what life serves up.

Perhaps St. Paul said it best,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4:12

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