A Very Special Thanksgiving

Eating with new friends

Over the past 11 months, my small group has helped several under-resourced individuals and families. We've thrown baby showers and housewarming parties and taken people out for ice cream. We've taught people how to cook, donated clothing, packed cabinets full of food, and given countless rides. And through it all, our mission has been to listen—to really get to know the people we're serving—and to bless others. And we've made friends—even with people that may have been afraid of church, people we may have been uncomfortable around.

But what we did last week takes the cake: I had the privilege of participating in a very special Thanksgiving dinner. We invited all the people we've gotten to know this year through our small group to a Thanksgiving feast. We set up tables, decorated, lit candles, and used festive plates and napkins. Our group members pitched in with different food: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit salad, cranberries, corn, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, and more. One group member brought homemade pumpkin pies, and another brought a beautiful cake shaped like a turkey. The kids (both our group members' and our guests') played in another room, while the adults sat around, sharing a meal, deepening our relationships.

There's something about food that brings us together, opens us up, and encourages us to share. I learned so much about our new friends as we stuffed our faces. But it was the little things that really excited me. One group member's children made a card for one of our new friends that just about brought me to tears. Another one of our guests expressed honor in being invited to such an intimate gathering, thanking us for being true friends. Another guest's jaw dropped when we packed up the leftovers for her to take home.

What made the evening so special was that celebrating Thanksgiving together is something you do with friends and family—it didn't have the feeling of us helping them. Instead, eating dinner together made us we. It makes me think of Jesus sitting down to eat with all kinds of people. I picture Jesus sitting back, relaxing, enjoying himself, and getting to know the people eating with him. And that's exactly what we did.

I love the idea of asking others to join us, to experience what we're experiencing, to be part of we instead of seeing us as them. We're inviting others to enjoy kingdom living with us, and it's a beautiful thing.

How is your small group building relationships in your community? Share with us below.

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