This time of year, we begin to think about things we are thankful for. Family and friends usually at top the list. For Christians Thanksgiving is a day we remember all of the things God has given to us over the past year. While the third Thursday of November is an American holiday, the celebration of giving thanks to God is nothing new. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we find prayers of thanksgiving carried out for all sorts of things. Jesus himself participated in thanking His heavenly Father (Mt. 26:26-27).

We may have great memories of gathering around grandma’s table with our family as we take a day off to celebrate, but I wonder if there is more to the mission of God during holidays. More recently a new tradition, “Friendsgiving,” has become popular. This includes people who may not share their DNA to celebrate the day together. Folks who are not able to reunite with family for the traditional dinner gather as a group of friends to celebrate the day. It is a way of putting out the welcome mat to those who otherwise might spend the day alone.

Thanksgiving is more than a huge feast or a “prep” day for the start of our Christmas holiday shopping. Like those who gathered for the first Thanksgiving, we gather to remember all that God has brought us through in the past year, the hardships, heartaches and triumphs. That first gathering was a group of people who were very different in many ways. Yet the welcome mat was out and the mission of God that seeks to extend love and grace to all people stretched across social and cultural barriers. Genuine hospitality shows others that there is a place at the table among friends. This gives Christians the opportunity to tell others that God has a welcome mat out just for them. This is the importance of everyday mission, to provide space for others to encounter the Risen Christ whose Spirit lives in us!