The tiny table in the middle of the one-roomed house was piled high with as much as it would hold and then some-plastic plates were stacked upon other plates so that everyone gathered around that one and only table would have something to eat.  In one of the most remote villages in Kenya, where drought and famine had claimed the lives of not only animals and crops but also people, Week of Compassion was welcomed.  There was a special seat at that table just for us.  The only chicken the family had eaten in weeks if not months was offered to me as guest.  In the midst of not having enough, somehow they seemed to make something out of virtually nothing.  

After the ritual hand-washing with a bar of soap passed around and precious water poured over your hands by the female hostess, the rest of the family was instructed to lead us in prayer.  I joined them as they prayed for the gifts of the earth and for all the blessings bestowed upon us as a human family, a Christian family, and a Kenyan family.

Their prayers weren’t especially original or moving in and of themselves.  What moved me, rather, was the attitude in which they offered those prayers.  Never before had I witnessed such an attitude of gratitude.  

There were no words wondering where the next chicken or meat would come from.  No pleas for more plantains or avocadoes.  Nothing mentioned about having more clean water.  Instead of praying for what they did not have, they gave God thanks for what they did have.  

And they meant it.  

I have been around many Week of Compassion tables in the last number of years.  Some are quite tangible, such as this tiny table in a remote village in drought-stricken Kenya.  Others are the tables that we do not see yet know are no longer empty because of our sharing.  

As we gather around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, I can’t help but think about all the tables, both seen and unseen, that we as Week of Compassion have set.  Thanks to you, we have provided sustenance, nutritious meals, agricultural development, wells and systems that lead to adequate clean water, tools and training, seeds, and paths to food security for individuals, groups, and communities the world over.  This is the table we set.  As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, I hope you’ll set the table knowing that it is not the only table you set...and that you remember the many tables that are now plentiful because of your gifts of compassion.  

I am reminded, too, of the table Jesus prepared in that upper room, surrounded by his disciples.  Let us not forget that before he broke the bread to feed his friends, he first blessed it, giving thanks for it, and then made sure there was enough of it for all to be fed.

May your table be blessed with good food, and may it nourish your body and spirit, empowering you to ensure that all have enough to eat.  May you celebrate all the blessings that are yours.

Happy Thanksgiving from Week of Compassion.  

This week’s responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Illinois, Tornado Damage (33)
Philippines, Typhoon Recovery
USA, U. S. Storms, Floods, Tornadoes and Wildfires
Indiana, Tornado Damage
Pennsylvania, House Fire
California, Church Vandalism

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Texas, Long Term Recovery in West