Politics at the Thanksgiving Table

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. – James 1:19-20 

So many people are anxious about Thanksgiving this year. They’re anxious about the conversation around the family table, particularly if the topic of politics comes up.  

Some families have established rules about what can and can’t be discussed around the table. Others have made choices to simply avoid certain family gatherings for fear that the conversation will get contentious. 

How did our fear become stronger than our love? How did our political affiliations become more powerful than our familial connections? 

How can we come together as a nation if we never put our knees under the family table with people with whom we disagree? How will love ever win if we don’t break the wishbone with those who see things differently than we do? 

So, rather than avoid the conversation, have it. But make a few commitments up front.  

Commit to asking honest questions rather than making statements.  

Commit to learning what others think rather than convincing them how wrong they are.  

Commit to listening far more than speaking.  

Commit to believing the best, rather than the worst, about those with whom you disagree.  

Commit to forgiving those who offend you rather than verbally hitting back. 

And most of all, before you turn on the oven to cook the turkey, or turn on the TV to watch the game, commit to praying that God’s love would fill you in ways that pumpkin pie never could. 

There’s a time to debate politics. There’s a time to speak out against positions that we believe to be morally wrong. But perhaps the Thanksgiving table is neither the time nor the place. Perhaps the Thanksgiving table is a time to listen and learn and love. 

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN 

 

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