Giving Thanks at a Bigger Table

Counting the blessings of our presbyterian-reformed family

Happy Birthday, Christian Courier! Isn’t it lovely how this aligns with Thanksgiving? A very fitting coincidence. In these days of counting our blessings and holding on, it’s wonderful to have a real celebration like this to mark. We may be restricted when it comes to physically sitting down at extended family tables this Thanksgiving, but this issue extends the table and focuses our thanksgiving on this community and its ongoing work and witness.

I first started reading Christian Courier four years ago when editor Angela Reitsma Bick approached me about a column. Before that, I had been writing a family and faith column for the Presbyterian Record, but sadly that was coming to an end with the close of the magazine. Reading CC felt familiar – I could see the family resemblances between the two publications – and I felt grateful to have this new-to-me home for my writing. Column writing with the Presbyterian Record had been a way to connect with my nation-wide church community, sharing my life and observations with far-flung friends and family. I grieved to lose that, and I wasn’t sure if I could replicate it by writing for a different publication. Then I discovered it wasn’t just writers that moved; Presbyterian readers were also looking for a new home. It felt like the family was stretching out and growing. 

New voices

Over the years, column writing has helped me develop discipline as a writer, grounding me and keeping me returning to my notebook with reflections, realizations, questions and doubts. It has given me the space to develop a continuing voice and I feel thankful for that. Since starting writing here, I’ve published two books – one collection of short first-person voices from the scriptures, legends and histories and one literary novel – and I’ve just been offered a book deal on a second novel, to be published in the spring of 2022. I’m thankful for the community encouragement that led me here. You’ve helped me stretch my voice and learn to listen for new interesting stories. 

I’m also thankful for the other voices I find in these pages. For the ways you share your lives and nudge me towards wider, more loving understanding of the church and the world. You remind me who we are and I’m thankful that we have a place together to reflect our faith and journeys, together with all those who went before, filling these pages and nurturing this community. I’m thankful, too, for those who will come after, teaching us new things and reminding us of truths we’ve forgotten. I trust they will and I’m thankful.

I’m imaging a thanksgiving table with family and friends gathered around. Fresh bread. Pumpkin baked with maple syrup. Mashed potatoes with the magic ratio of butter and salt. And the perfect turkey my brother cooks. My sisters’ spinach salad and squash and wild rice casserole. My niece’s chocolate brownies. My parents’ green-and-gold wedding china. But also yours. Your traditions and stories and different ways of doing things. Your best and fresh and perfect and remembered. Together, these are the riches of our community and gifts of God for the people of God.

This article was published in our October 12 issue under the title “Thanksgiving.”


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