A Different Gathering
November 2022

By a member of SEND’s Diaspora | North America teamMy older brother and I jostled for the front spot in the line for the church potluck. We loved these events and as soon as the prayer ended, we sprinted for the main table piled high with untold wonders! We filled our plates to overflowing with our favorites and hustled over to sit down to start digging in! First on our forks was some delicious looking spaghetti. However, when that spaghetti hit our tongues it was nothing like we had expected. We gagged almost immediately. This wasn’t anything like the spaghetti mom made, what was going on? It was like someone was playing a joke on us, but no one was laughing. It was the worst thing either of us had ever been subjected to in our short lifespans. I don’t remember who slipped away first, but we both slunk past those waiting patiently in line and then into the kitchen. We dumped our plates quickly into the trash can! Who can mess up spaghetti, we croaked? We learned a good lesson that day that neither of us has ever forgotten. Take a small portion until you are sure you are getting what you think you are getting. Now many years and many church potlucks the world over, this small grain of wisdom has saved me on more than one occasion!When is the last time you ate something new and different? Especially as we approach the holiday season, I suspect many of us have our favorite foods that we just tend to rotate through on a regular basis. Then sometimes we stretch ourselves by having something that we like but just haven’t eaten in a while. This is true of many refugees as well, or they wish it was this way. Yet, they find themselves in a new land with new foods and it proves to be a challenge for them. I would like to ask you to consider inviting a new refugee family over for dinner this coming Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ask them to bring something that they enjoy. Yes, of course, have your own traditional favorites, and enjoy sharing them and introducing them to your guests. But this year, how about we also consider having something new as well? Most likely the refugee family will be facing all new foods, so let them bring one of their favorites and maybe we can try one new thing?Please also take the opportunity to share the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Perhaps take a moment to go around the table. Let each one gathered share what they are grateful for. If possible, share with your guests that not everyone in America or Canada appreciates or thanks God for his abundant blessings. And I say that, because most Muslims view all people in the West as Christian and they need to hear, gently, that not everyone in the West is a follower of Jesus. In this ever-increasingly polarized world, they need to hear Jesus speaking of humility and talking about the two greatest commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself. For as we follow and live out these two commandments, the world around us will be transformed. Transformed not by us, but by the power of His love and grace.At this special time of year, there can be many distractions, from commercial extravagances to simply being too busy. But please, as you gather to thank God for His blessings, consider inviting a refugee or recent immigrant family in that display of thankfulness. This could be on Thanksgiving Day itself or some other day around Thanksgiving. In fact, let’s consider it a season of Thanksgiving, instead of just a day of Thanksgiving.

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