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November 26, 2013
Much talk of the oncoming nor'easter here, the day before everybody travels. I heard someone say that Penn Station was a madhouse even yesterday; things will not have improved today and tomorrow should be perfectly dreadful. Interestingly, though, on the day before Thanksgiving the passengers seem okay with it all. You could almost say they were mellow. I guess they are thinking more of their destination than of their current location.

I am excited. Our Thanksgiving Dinner is at noon, following the 10am service at which we get to sing those Thanksgiving songs we only sing once a year. We expect 100, though it could be more -- things were so busy at the Hands of Hope Food Pantry on Saturday that they lost count of reservations for the upcoming feast. On the other hand, it could be fewer: there is the nor'easter to consider.

What we do know is that every person who comes will be an honored guest. Although it is not always possible to answer with confidence the question people wear on those rubber WWJD bracelets -- What Would Jesus Do? -- he has given us clear instructions about how we are to treat the poor: we're supposed to take steps to improve the quality of their lives. Are they hungry? Feed them. Thirsty? Give them something to drink. Sick? Visit them -- be a part of their healing. The Thanksgiving a Dinner is a sign pointing to all that, a moment in which we put down indifference and take up love.

Food pantries are inundated with donations at this time of year. Come July, those who run them wish these holidays happened more often -- people eat all year, not just in November! But they accept it all: many pantries bring in half of the non-perishables they will receive the entire year in the course of these few days. It can be a bit startling, this avalanche of food, but it is a great blessing.

Be safe. Enjoy your family, whether it's the one into which you were born or the one you have assembled yourself. If you are alone and like it, savor the quiet gratitude the day evokes. If you are alone and hate it, take steps to be with someone who would also be alone if it were not for you. Or come to a community dinner like ours -- there is always room for one more. And The Lord will provide.
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