Written by Camp Urban Vision Director, Jordan Fairfax
Thanksgiving like many holidays has a dash of sadness and happiness. It can be a time to count the cost and reflect on the faithfulness of God. It may be the first year without a loved one or friend. You may have someone serving overseas or local civil servants. Broken families or spread across the globe. For my family, it is a time to open our doors to those that don’t have a place to go. (They are all given a warning, we are a little crazy. You’ll see a slice of it in a bit.)
One of the many traditions we hold as a family is that of “Turkey Of The Year.” This is a tradition that started in part by my Mammaw. The idea was to write down silly things that people present at the Thanksgiving meal had done throughout the year. You are able to nominate anyone who is there for any reason you saw as silly or bordering lack of intelligence. The nominations are then collected and at the end of the meal read aloud. (Key rule that never gets followed but adds to the hilarity is you are not allowed to defend yourself). The nominees are narrowed down to three top-tier candidates whom everyone will vote an official winner. The winner gets the title “Turkey of the Year” and is presented with a pin they must wear the rest of the day.
I know you are thinking, what are some of the winners? So without names to protect their identity (because not all winners were family, many visitors have beginners luck). Past winners include carrying a pee bottle through airport security, trying to stop neighbors kids from picking on a dog and forgetting you just jumped out of the shower and ran to the window without putting on your towel, explosive poop in public restaurant, attempting to keep bugs away from oneself while raising your hand straight into the air floating down a river screaming at them, pastor chasing kids down the street with a rake, losing the keys for three missions trip vans because you convinced everyone that you were the most responsible and would be least likely to lose the keys, leaving a package of crackers on your car while driving through a wild game safari preserve… and the list goes on but you get the idea.
So why do I mention this tradition from the many others we do with a little more meaning and Christ-centeredness? First off it is a historical one, and second I enjoy that we can laugh at ourselves and each other. We do so silly things and I will admit I am a multi-year winner and a strong candidate to bring the prize back home again this year. To me, it also takes steps in allowing a very open life. We know virtually nothing is off limits in these nominations and that we have our silliness displayed before everyone their family, friends, and first time visitors (this may be why people only visit once?) It is a silly way that creates an open house where we feel a little more free to talk about faults and admit they are there, but they don’t define us. I have a great respect for the members of my family and how God has gifted them and where they are serving. This tradition allows us to share the silly but unit in our love for each other and encourage one another.
This tradition has helped me to humble myself and try to be obedient when God calls. I get it, you’re thinking, how did you jump there? Sometimes when I see God moving and pulling in my life it looks silly or asks me to put myself out there. I need to be obedient to answer the call and offer up what I have to allow God to use me to expand His kingdom. This reminds me of John 6:9 the only account that mentions the boy with his loaves and fish.
The boy had gone to hear Jesus and meal time had come. The disciples go into a conversation with Jesus about providing food for the crowd. They arrive at the idea that they should collect food from the crowd to distribute to all. All they could find was the boy who offered his loaves and fish. It had to seem silly. I can imagine the inner dialogue: should I give what I have or just save it for the trip home? I mean really, thousands of people and a few loaves and fish. Whatever the dialogue really looked like it ended with the boy handing over what he had to be used by Jesus.
In our lives, we can probably rationalize our ways out of serving many ways, but we need to allow ourselves to be humbled and not care what people think of moments but of eternity. In doing this we allow God to use us to change hearts. The boy and the disciples got to see God feed a crowd on a few loaves and fish. What will you get to see God do because you surrendered what you have to be used by Him?
Looking for a way to plug in at Urban Vision? Contact Regina Lewis, [firstname.lastname@example.org], our volunteer coordinator. She would love to talk about the gifts you have and how God can use them in North Hill.