On July 3rd of this year my grandma died.
Tomorrow will be the first holiday since her death. There will be an empty chair at the table.
Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday in theory but it is in practice. I love the deep religious meaning of Christmas and Easter more by far, but in practice I love Thanksgiving. There's no gifts, no imaginary mascots, there's just being thankful with and for those you love around the dinner table. I loved being around my grandma at Thanksgiving and this year she won't be there.
There are others of you with an empty chair at the table this year. I think especially of my wife's side of the family and my friends the Bakers. They both will have their first Thanksgiving with an empty chair.
It's not supposed to be this way.
I'm not sad for those who died. When believers in Christ die they go to be with Jesus and that is a far better place than our Thanksgiving dinner table. I'm sad for those of us who are left behind. My uncle said in conversation that Heaven won't just be a big family reunion. He's right. Heaven will be much better than that. At its core Heaven is about getting to be directly and intimately with the Triune God. Heaven is much more than a reunion, but it isn't less than a reunion. God is so good that He died to give us Himself and one another.
As I look at the empty chair this year I will keep a couple thing in mind.
"He (Jesus) sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself." Hebrews 7:27b
Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient for my grandma and it is sufficient for me. I don't need to worry if she screwed it up in the past or if I'll screw it up in the future. Jesus sacrificed for our sins once and for all and this promise is for all who believe.
"... Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" Revelation 19:9b
"And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:39-40
There is a feast coming that transcends tomorrow's. Thanksgiving dinner will be great but the wedding supper of the Lamb will be the greatest feast ever thrown. Thanksgiving will have empty chairs at the table but at the wedding supper of the Lamb not a chair will be vacant. All who are invited to the feast on that day will attend, guaranteed!
Tomorrow my family will have an empty chair at the table for the Thanksgiving feast and so might you. This is a sad thing and I pray that you have peace in the midst of that sadness. But at the wedding supper of the Lamb EVERYONE who looks to the Son and believes in Him will be seated and will dine and will drink and will celebrate.
Remember the loved one missing at the table tomorrow. Give thanks for their life and give thanks that God has great promises for them and for you. And if you don't have a seat for the wedding supper of the Lamb make a reservation with our Lord and Savior today.