This is the season we celebrate the bounty of God’s blessings in our lives. The iconic Norman Rockwell painting of the American family gathered around the table on Thanksgiving Day lives in my memory as an image of peace and plenty. There are certain ideals in that image that are under threat today. Most important is the picture of a unified, multi-generational family gathered in one place. Fewer of us each year have that experience. Now, we are coming to understand with the guidance of the Holy Spirit that family can come in a wide variety of forms — the group gathered around the table often looks very different now than in Rockwell’s time. The important thing for us as followers of Jesus Christ is to recognize, affirm and support the ties of love that bind families together, whatever combination of people are involved.
The other important part of Rockwell’s image of the traditional Thanksgiving that is under threat is that enormous turkey on the table which symbolizes the wealth of food and other basic necessities that we Americans have enjoyed for a long time. Sadly, Newsday reported in a recent edition that the number of children on Long Island living in poverty in the last nine years has gone from 6.1 percent to 9.9 percent, an increase that is considerably larger than that for the entire state of New York. There are many things that contribute to these grim statistics, which add up to many empty tables at dinner time in our neighborhoods.
In our draft Plumbline Study of our congregation(s) we renew the commitment of our Christian fellowship to respond to these concerns by being a family for those who have lost their family and to do this by being alert and responsive to people’s needs for fellowship. We also call for a continuation and expansion of our mission commitment to hungry children. I would hope that we can enhance our commitment to Long Island’s children by both continuing our charita le giving and by becoming advocates for increased public support for the poorest children.
Yes, the Norman Rockwell image of thanksgiving is changing, but the vision of family unity and prosperity continues to inspire us. I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us to a new level of commitment this holiday season to each other and to our community.