November is an interesting month. Early in the month we are reminded to be grateful for the veterans who helped defend this nation and therefore ourselves. Toward the end of the month we are to gather and give thanks for all that we have come through, succeeded in, was able to do, the people in our lives, and everything else that comes to mind and heart.

Yet, as I write this in late October, we are learning of bombs mailed to people because of their political stance. We have groups belittling other citizens because they are of a different race. We are bombarded by political ads which denigrate the character of the opposing candidates. We are also preparing to spend ridiculous amounts of money for things that the person who receives them may or may not have a use or desire for.

We are challenged this month to stop and remember all the gifts we have been given. Gifts from the men and women who step into the path of terrible danger to defend those of us who cannot. We are dared to give thanks, not for things, but for relationships, families, blessings received, people who have touched us over the course of this year. To share this time of Thanksgiving with others and encourage them to be grateful as well.

There are all sorts of things that divide us, but our faith teaches us to push through the divisions and restore community in thanksgiving. We don’t have to agree on everything, we don’t have to support the same teams, we don’t have to come from the same economic class, ethnic background, religious practice, or sexual orientation. We can all be grateful to God for the chance to share community around a table and break bread together.

In spite of the divisions created by society, politics, class, ethnicity, and sexual identification, we can stand together, united, in gratitude for those who risk their lives for us, for those who give time and life to rescue us, to those who offer us hope for healing, for those who stand with us when we need them the most. Refuse to be torn apart by those that tell us our personal beliefs are more important than someone else’s. Take the hand of the stranger, the outcast, the rejected, and break bread together.

Shalom, Darrell