“The Eucharist is the summit of God’s saving action: the Lord Jesus, by becoming bread broken for us, pours upon us all of His mercy and His love, so as to renew our hearts, our lives, and our way of relating with Him and with the brethren.”
My wife and I were married shortly before Thanksgiving 17 blissful years ago. I remember wanting nothing more than to elevate my standing among the in-laws that first holiday by contributing an amazing side dish that would blow the competition away. Confident in my culinary competency, I boldly offered to take on the stuffing. After extensive research, I selected a sophisticated recipe and dedicated the whole day to preparing two trays of pure delight.
I cut up the cubes of fresh baked sourdough, sauteed two types of sausage, added minced apple and dried cranberries. As I walked triumphantly into my sister-in-law’s house and requested my spot in the oven, I noticed some side eye analysis of my delicacy. “Interesting,” one said. “You’re adventurous,” said another. These were not compliments. Finally, one got straight to it. “You brought Stove Top too, right?” When I shook my head no, luckily my sister-in-law had some lying around and “stuffing two ways” was served that year. You might be able to guess which version had lots of leftovers.
Driving home defeated with almost as much stuffing as I brought, my new bride tried to comfort me. “I loved it. You can always make that stuffing for me,” she said sweetly. “Next time, just remember who you are cooking for.” It was a simple, silly, yet powerful lesson that I always think about this time of the year.
When I come to the table, whatever table, do I know who I am cooking for? How often in my leadership do I bring something to the moment that is important to me but lacks an understanding of the palettes or hungers of others? Despite my best intentions and effort, is my recipe based on a self-orientation or on a communal one? Am I more concerned with what I am bringing to the table or who I am bringing it for? When I come to the Lord’s table in prayer and worship, do I present what I think will impress Him or what will really fill my heart and lead me closer to Him?
Every year, I still make the stuffing for my wife, but I’ve learned it’s my Brussels sprouts with pancetta that helps complete the meal for my family. As we give thanks to come not only to the Thanksgiving table of our friends and families, but the ultimate Thanksgiving table of the Lord, let’s make sure to focus on bringing that which will allow us and others to be stuffed with His grace. Happy Thanksgiving!