We opened the doors and they came, nearly 120 of them, entering the brightly lit venue in the small town of Staatsburg, NY. They came for a feast, they came out of curiosity and they came for company, as one lone elderly woman said to my son Isaac as he held the door open for her…
“It will be nice to sit at a table and talk to someone.” She said with a smile on her face.
Some were dressed as if they were dining at a fancy restaurant, others in business casual attire and more people than I could count, in clothes that had seen better days. The beauty of all this was that they came through the same doors and shared dinner at the same tables.
Several local churches, businesses, and civic organizations banded together to serve a Thanksgiving meal to our community. The fact that we all were humble and compassionate enough to drop egos at the door to work alongside each other was the first miracle. The meal itself… well, that was a delight to behold.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35
The dinner was a sit down meal; the tables (beautifully decorated) had name tags and place settings. Each person was welcomed and escorted to their seats by smiling faces and warm hearts. The seating was prearranged to have a mixture of people; inviting lively conversations among folks who may never had opportunity to talk to each other before. Remember the lady looking for one less lonely night? Well, she got her wish.
The night had the Father’s heart written all over it. One lady told me that prior to this meal, her dinner was going to be a peanut butter sandwich, now her eyes beamed with gratefulness over a plate overflowing with good food. Yet, there was more to it, she was surrounded by community, a community sharing goodness together.
Everybody’s spirit was feasting as well…the Father knows
the power of community.
There are so many enemies to community building, so many foes trying to keep us all apart. When we share our hearts, we share the best part of ourselves, the part the Father has redeemed and set free. Free people have no hesitation opening their heart and sharing because they are imitating their Heavenly Father.
“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9
The art of thanksgiving is contagious! What we (all those who volunteered to serve) got to see was the look of blessing on people’s faces. We shared in the stories of hearts willing to express their thankfulness for being treated with special grace and kindness.
That’s quite a powerful table setting!
I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30
The planning for the first Hyde Park Community Thanksgiving Dinner began many months ago, but you’ll have to ask Kregg Gabor when the vision for this event began in his heart to know the true beginning. Kregg serves as pastor for the Hyde Park Methodist Church, this dinner, this blessed event came from a God birth vision deep inside him, one he was all too happy to include whoever willing to serve the community in on. He will humbly take no credit but he deserves a lot for obeying God and spearheading this event…thanks Kregg!