With Thanksgiving only a couple weeks away, chances are your plans are already nearly set–especially if your family does pretty much the same thing year after year, like ours does.
You know where you’re going, who you’re seeing, what you’re eating… (mmm… mashed potatoes!) And if you’re like most, you’re probably really looking forward to the time off of work to relax and spend quality time with family you don’t get to see often enough.
In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle to get ready for this very important time of year, however, do you ever stop to think of the people who DON’T have plans this Thanksgiving?
People who don’t have friends or family nearby, or those who have no special plans because they simply can’t afford all the trim and trappings?
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” –Hebrews 13:2
Every year, people make such a huge outrage over Black Friday starting earlier and earlier, running into Thanksgiving. And yes, it is a shame that some people have to move their Thanksgiving celebrations because they have to work on the holiday. But what about the people who aren’t planning on celebrating it at all?
Chances are, there are people all around you who could really benefit from you reaching out this Thanksgiving. People you see every day. People who are hurting, but you’d never know because they keep it inside while you’re busy focusing on your own life and your own plans.
This year, don’t ignore them. Open your eyes. Pay attention. Who around you needs you to reach out?
Yes, you can donate food to food banks or put a few extra dollars in a collection jar – those things are great! – but why not invite someone into your home? To give them a full measure of Christian love, warmth and hospitality, instead of just the slice of turkey your few donated bucks could buy them?
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
–1 John 3:17-18
Every year, you can find tons of “Use up your leftover turkey” recipes on Pinterest.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love leftover turkey as much as the next person, but if we consistently have SO much abundance that we have to figure out what we’re going to do with everything we have left over–why aren’t we using this abundance to bless those who would otherwise go without?
Now, I’m not saying you have to go out on the streets and invite the first hobo you see to dinner. I’m not saying you have to go into the local bars and find people to bring home (though you certainly could if you wanted to).
But what about that lady from work who is a little quiet and doesn’t seem to have many friends?
Your neighbor who recently is recently divorced?
The sweet elderly neighbor that lives down the road?
The college kids who go to your church who can’t afford to drive home for the holiday?
The grocery store clerk you see every week and really should get to know more?
There are opportunities literally all around you if you take the time to look. Why not reach out and invite someone to join you? You never know the difference this one small gesture can make.
“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'”
— Luke 14:12-14
What plans do you have this Thanksgiving? How can you use this holiday as an opportunity to bless others?