December 08, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving Day was filled with memories and good times.  We had several people spend our Thanksgiving meal with us and I cherished every minute I spent with grandma and mom in the kitchen.  We actually started preparing food the night before.  And I was filled with so much energy knowing that the food would bring joy and comfort to everyone who ate it.

My dad informed us at dinner one evening that he was contemplating inviting a good friend of his, not a Christian, to join us for Thanksgiving. I was ecstatic.  This man has been a friend of the family for many years, since before I was born.  And although he had been invited to join us in years past he had always had other plans.  But my dad really felt that he should invite him again this year.

Brad not only accepted but asked if he could bring his mother as well.  Of course we had no problem with that! Brad is an agnostic and probably one of the dearest, sweetest, most considerate people I have ever known.  I love him dearly... we all do.  And I won't deny that I've prayed for his salvation for many years now without any "success."  But just because someone doesn't believe the way I do doesn't mean they have nothing to share or offer of significance.  I don't believe that the Bible teaches Christians to only "hang out" with Christians.  On the contrary.  My studies of the Bible lead me to believe that Christians should share and love and spend time with non-Christians too.

There are many people these days who call themselves Christians but they have all kinds of extreme limits on who they'll accept as friends and even isolate themselves from society in hopes of being more "spiritual." Jesus didn't isolate himself from the world and he certainly didn't tell his disciples to steer clear of anyone who didn't think the way they did!  He taught that Christians should love everyone, even their enemies!  He taught that Christians should show forgiveness and mercy to the same extent that they themselves received from God.

All this to say that although our friend Brad has chosen to remain an agnostic we still welcome him and his family into our home. We still cherish his friendship.  Brad is a single in his mid to late forties and has stated that he is happy to remain so. And we have told him that when his mother passes away, the only family he has in the world, we would be honored to include him in ours.

After our awesome dinner :) I took to the piano and entertained his mother with music.  Brad came into the living room a little-bit later and sat down to listen as well.  Before I knew it, everyone was sitting in the living room listening to me play!  He then asked me if I had a favorite piece.  In response I performed a work that I had composed a year or two ago.  When I finished he had tears in his eyes and asked me who was the composer.
Albeit embarrassed, I explained that the composer was me. He was surprised and asked what my inspiration had been.  So I told him about a road trip my father and I took together one year during the fall.  We were traveling to Philadelphia, PA, and all the trees were changing colors.  The views were stunning!  I composed the piece shortly after that day, trying to capture the beauty and thrill of that road trip. My story touched Brad, who had lost his dad to a heart-attack last year.  He told me that he would love a recording of the piece.

My point in all of this is that life is so much richer and lovelier when we accept each other as we are and stop judging people for being different than us.  We all come with our own dreams and feelings and, just as God has created us unique and loves us, so we should cherish and love each other.  I don't believe that being a Christian makes me better than anyone else... it simply means that Jesus Christ is real to me and I believe in the Bible and what it teaches.

So... as the Christmas season comes this year I find a lot to be thankful for.  Life isn't perfect, I'm not perfect, and that's okay.  God never asked me to be... only that I trust him.

Philippians 4: 10 -14 "I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don't mean that your help didn't mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles."

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