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Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving

There are two phrases being highlighted this month in Sunday worship and in our staff blog, “Please” and “Thank you.”  Andy Pasek, our fearless leader of Student Ministries and newly minted Calvin Seminary Divinity student, is the writer for the week. Thanks to Andy and g2G! - Pastor Gregg

A few years ago, my wife, Kendra, and I wondered how we could celebrate our gratitude for being able to serve the youth of our church. We decided to host “Friendsgiving”--a day to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends--and invite the students.

We host our Friendsgiving the week before Thanksgiving. To make room for everyone, we take all the furniture on our first floor down to the basement and move the dining-room table into the kitchen for a larger serving area. We make two turkeys, about 15 pounds of mash potatoes, 5 pounds of green beans, and a few large trays of stuffing. We set it all out and set up folding tables down the center of our home. We cover the table with a cloth containing the signatures of every student to attend over the years, along with their prayers of thanksgiving.

The students show up and provide the other food--from the traditional thanksgiving pizza, to cookies, and pie, to casseroles and quiches. Then it’s time to feast! We eat and eat until nothing is left in the kitchen. As we sit around the table, we laugh and share what we’re thankful for.

But then comes the best part of the night: we break down the tables and chairs and set up a TV to display song lyrics. Then Ty and Bethany Taylor lead us in worship.

Having that many people packed into our little home makes for a very toasty house, so we open all the doors and windows as we sing out that music, Worship wafts out into the neighborhood. Over the years, as Thanksgiving approaches, neighbors start asking if the students are coming over for the singing party soon. They look forward to it and support our teens in their pursuit of God.

Friendsgiving is nothing fancy. It’s not super planned out. It’s not the best food. And it’s not super comfortable. But, of all the gatherings our high school youth group does every year, Friendsgiving is one of my favorites. The togetherness and worship pouring out of our students thankful hearts make it a beautiful and awesome time.

Every year, I am challenged again and again to love Christ as our students do. Our students take the time in the midst of this over-scheduled season to worship full out. Without reservations. Simply because of how thankful they are that God loves them and cares for them and because God desires a personal relationship with each of them.

Every time we get together as a youth group, our students welcome each other into worship by looking into each others’ eyes and saying, “I am so thankful you are here in worship with me today.” It’s this spirit that they bring to Friendsgiving. We can all learn a thing or two from this. No matter where you are, no matter what’s going on, God has given you the greatest gift of all: his love! As I tell my students, one way of looking at creation is that God made the very ground you walk on so that he might have a relationship with you.[Our thanks is when we turn our hearts to God in humble praise and in grateful worship.

~ Andy Pasek