Dear Edgeboro Friends & Family,
The first day of autumn this year was September 22 and the days seem to be going by faster than the leaves are changing colors. By the time you read this, it will already be Thanksgiving season. (Commercials may be telling you it’s Christmas season already, but I’m taking this one season at a time.)
Thanksgiving is a time where many people gather around a table with others. About 47 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year to be around tables with friends and family. During this time, tables are special places. Interestingly enough, tables are special places in scripture as well. Just think of all the tables Jesus and the disciples sat around and all the holy moments and meals that occurred around them. One table that I would like to highlight now for Thanksgiving is the table mentioned in Psalm 23:5 – the one that the Lord prepares.
Many of us have heard these words before. Psalm 23, attributed to King David, speaks of opportunities to rest by still waters and green pastures and is filled with gratitude for God’s loving presence and shepherd-like care. David definitely seems to have blessings to be thankful for when he sits at the table the Lord prepares for him. Yet blessings are not the only thing that David is counting while at this table.
David has been through a lot, and while he can count blessings on one hand, he could count sorrows on one another. Here is a man that just before this said that he had been through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4). Here is a man who is also attributed to writing the psalm placed right before Psalm 23. Psalm 22 starts out with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me?” and continues to express his deep pain. Here is a man whose enemies (people or things that cause him harm) are still present at the Lord’s table with him (Ps. 23:5)!
David is sitting at the Lord’s table as someone who can count his blessings and his sorrows, and yet he promises to dwell with God (Ps. 23:6) for the rest of his life – and not because God made his enemies and sorrows disappear. It is because he knows that at the Lord’s table, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow [him] all the days of [his] life” (Ps. 23:6) We lose the awesomeness of that statement when we translate it from Hebrew. According to scholars, it more closely says, “only goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” See the difference? David’s hope of being caught by God’s goodness and mercy overwhelms his fear of being followed by the things that harm him.
We often hear that Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings – and it absolutely is. Many of us have many blessings that we could count. But for many, Thanksgiving and the holiday season can also be a very difficult time because in addition to bringing our blessings to our Thanksgiving tables, we also bring our sorrows. These sorrows do not simply go away because the holiday season tells us to be happy and “count our blessings.”
If David can teach us anything with these psalms, it’s that we are invited to the Lord’s table carrying both blessings and sorrows and still invited by God to eat, drink, rest, and be revitalized, and that we are relentlessly pursued by God’s love, goodness, and mercy. Sisters and brothers, may we remember this during the holidays and may our own tables we gather around resemble the Lord’s table in Psalm 23.
May our holiday season be blessed.