Thanksgiving 2018: Ready? Set. Go!
Thanksgiving is a week away! Ready? Set? Go!
Thanksgiving is a genuinely American holiday and one of my favorites. If you have not done so already, it’s time to issue some invitations for next Thursday. You could do a Thanksgiving Day brunch, lunch, dinner or leftover party on Friday or Saturday. Whatever you do, remember it’s about giving thanks and enjoying the company of others.
If you’re like me, there’s one dish that makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving – and without it, well, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving. That dish is my mom’s signature sausage dressing.
Like everything I make, this recipe starts with an onion – chopped with a bunch of celery. Think in the neighborhood of three cups total.
Add one package of Sage sausage
Add 2 eggs
Add 2 bags of Herb Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
Put all of this in a big bowl and mix with your hands, breaking up the sausage so until it’s distributed throughout. (Yes, it’s messy.)
Pour in 1 large can of mushrooms with the juice and 1 box of turkey or chicken stock
- Mix again – with your hands
- Pour it into one or two well buttered casserole dishes and pack it down, pressing it with your hands. I like to make the center a bit of a ditch to it cooks evenly.
- Pour one stick of melted butter evenly over the whole thing
- Slowly pour turkey or chicken stock over the whole thing until it’s saturated
- Cover with foil and Bake at 350 for 90 minutes. Check it and if it looks like the liquid has basically cooked out, its done. It should be moist, but not soupy. I check mine by digging a scoop out of the very middle. The sausage is the give away. If the sausage isn’t done, then the dressing isn’t done.
If you think this recipe is too big for your family, you’re wrong! I send this home with EVERYONE because it makes the BEST leftover you can imagine!
Okay, now that we’ve got a great dressing recipe, let’s start to count our blessings.
Many people will count their circumstantial blessings as a part of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. “I am thankful for…” will start the sentence that will conclude with family, friends, freedom, food, faith, health, wealth, new homes, new jobs, new opportunities, successes, achievements and victories. But the witness of the Christian and the Jew on Thanksgiving Day is the testimony of blessedness even in the face of circumstances that run counter to the cultural definitions of blessing.
The Jews are literally called blessed by God in order that they might in turn share the blessing of knowing God with the world. As Christians we are disciples of a man who called “blessed” those who are poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger for God, the merciful, the peacemakers and the persecuted. Does that sound like the list you’re likely to hear around the Thanksgiving Day table?
Here’s what matters: when God makes His list of blessings, YOU will be counted blessed. What material or circumstantial so-called blessing matters more than that?!
Imagine a Thanksgiving Day where we honestly and reverently say,
“As a person blessed by God’s grace, counted among His blessed children,” …
- I am blessed in my grief and I am blessed in loss.
- I am blessed in my physical frailties.
- I am blessed in my relative poverty.
- I am blessed to be in the midst of a suffering people as a light.
- I am blessed to be persecuted or discriminated against or harassed by others for Christ’s name sake.
Hard to say, right?
The truth is, we are blessed even when things are not going the way we might prefer.
I am blessed to live in the fullness of the knowledge of blessedness here and forevermore, no matter the circumstantial realities of life right now. And the commitment to give thanks remains even when the circumstantial causes for thanksgiving are not readily apparent.
The Psalmist reminds us thanksgiving and praise are based on who God is, all the time. “I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 7:17-18).
As you prepare for Thanksgiving consider our Christian brothers and sisters who do not have material or circumstantial reasons to give thanks. Consider the persecuted, the displaced, the marginalized, the hungry, the orphaned, the hurting and the widowed. For some there will be no hand to hold but their own. And yet, they give thanks to God for His eternal hands which hold them fast.
So, set an extra place at the table and invite someone you know has nowhere else to go. The newly single widower, the divorced mom, the college student living far from home, the international businessman, the immigrant or refugee or wandering soul. Pray that God would open your eyes and heart and bring someone to sit at table with you and your family. And may Christ be made known among you through the breaking of the bread.
And, as you count your blessings and name them one by one, focus not on the material and circumstantial but on the reality that when God counts people blessed, in Christ, you make His Thanksgiving Day list.
- Thanksgiving for relationships – people are precious
- Thanksgiving for physical, financial and mental capacity
- Thanksgiving for freedom and faith and the times in which we live
- Thanksgiving for God even if all those fail: the witness of Job
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
So what are my spiritual blessing in Christ? Let’s count them!
- Freedom from the penalty of sin in death and freedom from the power of sin in life
- Forgiveness and a reconciled relationship with the Father
- Righteousness before the Judge
- Resurrection from the grave
- Life abundant here and now and eternal forevermore
- Adoption into the family
- A seat at the table
- A room with a view
- A mansion, a robe and a crown
- Unlimited all-access pass to the Father
- Imputed righteousness
- A mediator with the Judge
- A mentor for the journey
- An ever-present help in times of trouble
- And all the riches of His glorious inheritance with all the saints
Every spiritual blessing in Christ…
- The gifts of the Spirit…
- The fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faith, Gentleness and Self-control
- The protection of the Father
- The name of the Son
- The power of the Spirit
- The mind of Christ
- The unity of the Spirit
- The bond of Peace
- The privilege of being Chosen, Called, Cultivated, Challenged, and Commissioned
- A life that is filled and more importantly, a life that is fulfilled
Every spiritual blessing in Christ…
- Grace: amazing, prevenient, pervasive, persistent, all-sufficient grace
- Hope: endearing, enduring, encouraging, enlightening, enveloping, inviting hope
- The honor of being called a child of God
- Citizen and ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven
- Representative of the Prince of Peace
- Co-heir with Christ
- Minister of reconciliation
- Light of the world
- A disciple with dignity, distinction, direction, and a life that endures forever and ever
- Marked as Christ’s own forever, bearing into the world the name that is above every name
- The gift of perfect love that casts out fear.
We are so blessed!