Giving Thanks in Community

by Rachel

This past week our team celebrated our 7th team Thanksgiving dinner together at Kibuye.  I don't think many people have actually been at all 7, but as our team has grown and expanded and changed over these past years, the team Thanksgiving dinner has remained a special and much loved event.

Thanksgiving is a time when most people bond together and share a special meal as a family.  We, who are far away from our biological families, enjoy getting a chance to feast together, share special foods and memories, and celebrate where God has brought us.  Most photos I saw from Thanksgiving in the US this year involved 8-10 people sitting around a table together.  We, on the other hand, had 70 people breaking bread together: Americans, Canadians, Burundians, and even a Congolese, Brit, Aussie, and French thrown into the mix.  People who have been here for a week, and people who have been in Burundi more than 50 years.  You might wonder what this even looks like!  Here's an example of the shoe pile outside the front door (which is just one of the doors...there were just as many shoes at the second door).

We must have had over 20 pies, not to mention cookies and puddings and the like.  Teammates cooked up endless side dishes and salads and there were 2 hams, 3 turkeys, and goat meat.  And then, when no one could eat another bite, we sat down together and praised God for his faithfulness and his provision and his blessing.

I think what makes this such a special day for me is not JUST the excellent food, but a real sense of feasting, in community together.  People bringing out their carefully hoarded cans of blueberry pie filling and French fried onions and cranberry sauce, their brown sugar and pecans that have been saved all year for THIS moment, to share together with other people who will also love and appreciate it.  It's about a celebration of making it through another year together, in hopes that next year we will all be back in the same place doing the same thing.  It's even about, and I don't think that this is being overly dramatic, rebelling against the darkness and the despair all around us.  In Every Moment Holy, the Liturgy for Feasting with Friends begins:

"To gather joyfully is indeed a serious affair, for feasting and all its enjoyments gratefully taken are, at their heart, acts of war.
In celebrating this feast we declare that evil and death, suffering and loss, sorrow and tears, will not have the final word....
May this feast be an echo of that great Supper of the Lamb, a foreshadowing of the great celebration that awaits the children of God."

A foreshadowing of the feast to come.  It gives me goosebumps, and elevates our party from a chance to gorge ourselves into a great celebration, tinged with hope and longing.

God has created us for community.  The psalms are full of thanksgiving in community.  I probably would not have this type of community anywhere else in the world, but I am grateful to be here, living and serving alongside my friends.  There's a group of weaver birds that have moved into the pine tree in our backyard.  There must be 50 nests hanging up there, with a constant chattering and singing and flurry of activity.  It's all done in the shadow of a giant hawk nest, a hawk who can be a predator but in this case is apparently a protector.  The image reminds me of our team.  We are all together, sometimes crowded, sometimes noisy, sometimes frantic, sometimes chaos.  But all beautiful, in the shadow of the Almighty who guards and protects and guides us (of course he's not safe, but he's good).  And our thanksgiving together can be something more than each of us can give alone.

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

I love this! Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone at Kibuye! And cheers to the kid holding up the giant turkey drumstick ;)