Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Kind of Feast?

Just a quick note to prayerfully bid you, friendly and constant readers, safe travels today, and likewise for your loved ones, as you journey homeward for Thanksgiving celebrations.

And just a quick suggestion to look over today's Scripture reading from the book of Daniel, about Belshazzar's feast and "the handwriting on the wall." It is hard not to hear this deeply revelatory and dramatic story in light of the American Thanksgiving feast in its gilded grandeur. What to some is an unreservedly good and holy tradition of thanks for the bounty of our rich land, is for others a blasphemy -- a benign symptom, at best, of the myopic excesses of the American imperium; and at worst, a sacralization of plunder and a criminal forgetting of the violence done to many peoples and to the earth.

A clergy friend of mine from Brockton, Mass., writes the following on his Facebook wall:

I am in between thorns at this time, when everyone expects people of good conscience to not run to buy a turkey to celebrate a colonial Thanksgiving. I am a Christian man, and I believe that every second of our lives deserve a thanksgiving celebration. But the point I am trying to make to you all who are running to get a turkey for Thanksgiving Day is the following: Do you know the real meaning of this day for the Native Americans, owners of this Blessed Land? It is a DAY OF MOURNING, a day they remember their loved ones who were killed, raped, abused and lost all their belongings .... in the name of so-called Religious Freedom. This is what happened in reality to Native Americans by those first Europeans who arrived to the shore of Native American Soil. In the Name of Christian Justice, I no longer celebrate Thanksgiving but a day of mourning and sadness.

Will our Thanksgiving meals be an image of the Eucharist, and in their own way be a conduit to the grace offered supremely in the ritual meal that incorporates us into the body of Christ? Or will these ritual meals incorporate us into the body of Caesar? We can revel with King Belshazzar of Babylon and profane the precious vessels stolen from the Temple. Or we can learn table fellowship with the Prince of Peace.

What kind of feast shall we have?

Do not let my heart incline to evil,
to perform deeds in wickedness.
On the delicacies of evildoers
let me not feast.

Psalms 141:4

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