9 11 2022

I am grateful for the fact that my wife always makes me a nice piping hot cup of coffee every morning. She is always mixing up a variety of flavors when it comes to providing my daily brew and this time of the year includes some of my favorites like gingerbread, pumpkin spice and other holiday blends. Tasting that first hot sip of the new day is one of my absolute favorite blessings! But I usually only savor the first two gulps warm because I am usually doing a hundred other things at the same time. Many days, I will finish that same mug later in the evening when it has become cold but still just as delicious to me. I can never throw it out because I would not want to hurt the heart of the one who prepared it for me with loving hands in the first place.

There is a new worship song out that includes these following lyrics, “So come on my soul! Oh, don’t you get shy on me. Lift up your song, cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs. Get up and praise the Lord.” I think about how many moments do we just miss the precious little gifts that God provides us every day because we are preoccupied with what we need to do and in the process, we are blind to the wonders that the Lord has already done for us? I have been in my share of school cafeterias over the years. They can become loud and even scary places for those who aren’t in the know of how to navigate their way through these jungles wisely. I can tell you about something that hurts my gut with every dinner crowd. It’s the amount of food that ends up in the trash, uneaten, not enjoyed and totally taken for granted. I know there were parents behind those meals who assumed that what they were giving to their sons and daughters to quench their appetites would at least be appreciated and consumed. But unfortunately, the haste of a student’s schedule makes waste of their homemade sandwiches and hearty snacks that end up nestled within a garbage bag. And I see heaven looking down and shaking its head over these inept practices that have no real rhyme or reason.

Nestled within our yearly calendar is a holiday that just begs us to remember all that we have and not get suffocated by all that we don’t. I know the retail businesses jump right from Halloween to Christmas but we must fight the temptation to get sucked into a consumer mindset. How many big screen televisions does one household need? How many more gadgets, doo-dads and the latest edition of a smart phone that actually does your taxes and cleans your over can we use? It always cracks me up when my wife and daughters would look into their closets chock full of enough clothes and shoes to outfit a small city and say with the most serious of expressions, “I have nothing to wear!” And even I have to admit that I pretty much wear the same shirts and pants every other day and yet I have so much hanging on hangers that never sees the light of day. Stuff holds us back. Possessions anchor us down. Could this be the season that we practice the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

I’m not a fan of all you can eat buffets. It just encourages the old adage that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. You might have Bettie Davis eyes but it becomes unattractive when meshed with Fred Flintstones portion sizes. I have seen participants pile up their plates with enough food that is just begging for a belly ache. And the reason that the roast beef is not being digested properly is because there is more shrimp to be peeled and a whole stack of crab legs waiting to be dipped in butter. If you have ever been overseas on a trip to a third world country, you understand that sometimes feeling a little guilty isn’t such a bad thing after all. How can we be truly grateful for a home made piece of pie if there are another dozen more warming up in the bullpen?

I’m not a minimalist by any means. One look at my office and you know that I am a collector of memories. If I can tell a story about something someone gave me, I can’t throw it out. But the moral of that story is that all that we own must not own us. Living for the bigger house, the sportier car, the 6 figured salary has proven that it never satisfies the cries of our soul. What if we forgot about ourselves and focused more on those precious family members and friends that we still have access to in our lives? What if gratitude became more about the people and less about the number of packages that I can put my name upon? What if I stopped what I was doing and actually had the whole cup of coffee while the steam still rose from my cup?

It was Thanksgiving 1999. This was usually the time of the year that I would pack up the minivan and gather all the kids and head down to Florida to spend the holiday with my parents and siblings who moved their back in 1983. On a side note, I have no desire to relocate to a climate that doesn’t provide all four seasons. If there is no chance of snow, I don’t want to go! As you may know from my other writings, I have an unusually large family. We all gathered around a humongous table and got ready to share the goodies together. My Mom is Italian so Thanksgiving is a feast for the ages. After dinner, we all would go out and play a huge family game of football. But that particular Thursday, my Dad wanted us to go around the table and have everyone share what they were grateful for. I rolled my eyes because the timing on that taking place could roll right into Sunday! Unfortunately, my Father didn’t get his wish and we hemmed and hawed until we were free to go outside.

None of us knew that this would be our last Thanksgiving with Dad. By the following year, he would have already graduated to glory, taken at a young 67 by cancer. Why didn’t we slow down and linger with each other? Why did we feel the need to rush on to that which was next when what my Father wanted to do would have been an invaluable memory? When will we ever learn that loving people and not missing the magic when we are together needs to be paramount in our lives?

Every Wednesday night, the church that I pastor holds a Family Fun Night. Next week, November 16th at 6PM, we are having a taste of Thanksgiving night together. The day when everyone would gather around the table nightly to share more than a meal but to invest into one another’s lives is long gone. We all need the human touch and to have someone love us enough that our story genuinely matters! If you would like to join us, consider yourself invited. It is free and there are no strings attached. The Shamokin Christian and Missionary Alliance Church is located were 2nd and Arch Street collide. So come on out and don’t you get shy on me. We don’t have forever to get it right!   



2 responses

10 11 2022

Beautiful Rudy!

Sent from my iPad


11 11 2022
Rosemarie Prusakowski

What a beautiful lesson. Well said, sir and thank you!

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