Thanksgiving this year will be different. A few months ago, I was looking forward to the virus staying at the low simmer it was during early August so that I could visit (outdoors) with family and friends. But the situation has changed. During the weekend of November 14 and 15, New Jersey reported the highest number of positive cases for COVID-19 so far. Instead of gathering around a friend’s table, my Thanksgiving will be a much smaller affair. One of the things I’ll miss is all the culinary dishes served at these kinds of gatherings. Each guest was asked to bring something festive, fun and super tasty to serve to everyone else. I love discovering new flavors and dishes by sampling other people’s cultures and traditions. My table this year will look like it usually does – some turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce from a can. But I wonder, if this year were different, what dish would my family bring to Thanksgiving? What would we want to share with others?
It’s in that spirit of Thanksgiving and the sharing of food that leads me to offer to you remarks I spoke at a “Unity in the Valley” event in March 2019. In the days before the event, anti-Semitic graffiti was found in several high schools. Leaders from various faith communities, towns and schools met at Pascack Valley High School to affirm our identity as a diverse community and to support one another. The evening was full of wonderful music, inspiring speeches and words that challenged us to listen to the better angels of our nature. I did my best to honor the interfaith nature of the event while staying true to our faith in Jesus Christ. And at the end is an exercise that you may include in your Thanksgiving meals this year. As you Facetime with family and friends, dial up a long distant friend on the phone, or setup super large calls, I invite you to keep sharing and keep connecting. Even though this Thanksgiving isn’t the holiday we hoped it would be, we are connected to each other through a divine love that will never end. The Jesus who has sustained the church through these last 2000 years is with you, even now. I am always thankful for you and the ways you share God’s love with everyone. And I pray that you will have a safe and healthy holiday during a very strange time.
God bless you,
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