Summary: Even when our plates seem empty our cups run over with the love of God.
**** Author’s Note: This sermon was done as a "Chalk Talk" a picture was drawn in pastels as the sermon was preached. ****
Denise blew her nose and wiped her eyes on the hem of her apron. It was silly for her to be crying over a turkey even if it was the day before Thanksgiving.
She filled the sink with cool water, and then submerged the still thoroughly frozen bird. The instructions on the package said that soaking the turkey in cool water would help to speed up the defrosting process. Even so, Denise calculated, she wasn’t going to be able to start cooking the large bird until sometime next week. Well, it was really tomorrow about noon, but it may as well be next week for all of the difference it was going to make.
Back in Cincinnati, Denise’s mother had always bought their Thanksgiving turkey from Mr. Wellstone’s grocery store. He always saved their family a big twenty-pound, fresh bird straight from the grocery supplier. So Denise had never even seen someone prepare a frozen turkey, much less roast one all by herself. She could see it was going to be a long day.
While Denise was trying to imagine how she would replicate the huge Thanksgiving lunches of her childhood, given that she was getting such a late start in her preparations, her daughter Becky ran up to the sink and examined as closely as she could the plastic-wrapped, still frozen turkey. “Mama, I don’t like turkey salad,” Becky said in a cool matter-of-fact tone of voice.
“That’s fine, Becky,” Denise said in a kind of absent minded way. “I wasn’t planning on making turkey salad anyway. It isn’t among my favorite meals either.”
“Mama, I don’t much like turkey sandwiches or turkey and rice soup either.”
“Well, you ate some last year,” Denise replied. “What do you think that I should do with all of the leftovers when we finish our meal tomorrow?”
“Mama, on the television a few minutes ago they said that somebody stolen the truck of turkeys that were for all the hungry people. I don’t really like leftover turkey very much. And mama, this is one big turkey. Can we give some of our turkey to the hungry people instead of us eating the leftovers?”
Denise turned to face her daughter, whose six-year-old face was dotted with freckles and showed the earnestness of a naïve child. She stood with her left hand on her hip, just like Denise herself often had stood when she was trying to get her way on some issue. Denise’s voice sounded a little harsher than what she had really intended. “Becky, what in the world are you talking about now?”
Becky took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. The six-year-old began her story again all though slower this time. It was as if it were she that was speaking to a child. She tapped her sneaker-clad foot impatiently on the floor. “Mama, I told you. I just herd on television that somebody stole the trucks with all the turkeys that were intended for the hungry people. And so, I want us to give them some of our turkey. Mama, we really have too much.
Denise looked deep into the face of her only child. The sweetness of Becky’s eyes always seemed to take her breath away. She loved this child so much. How could she have taken Becky away from their huge extended family in Cincinnati? How could she so selfishly deny her so many people who loved her?
When the job opening in Atlanta had become available, it had seemed to her like a gift from God. It was a chance for her to spread her wings and prove she could be a good mother and provide for Becky all by herself, independent of all her own family. But two months in a new city without family had really tried her strength. And now it was their first holiday alone and now it was threatened because she had forgotten to buy the turkey until after work tonight.
Denise reached out and handed Becky a pilgrim-shaped sugar cookie and said, “Honey, I’m trying to get our Thanksgiving dinner started. Go on back into the living room and watch television for a little while longer.” Becky took the cookie and reluctantly left the kitchen for the living room and more TV.
Two hours later, Becky was ready for bed. She knelt beside her bed to say her prayers. Denise heard her include, “And God bless the hungry people. Send them lots of peanut butter and jelly since they won’t have any turkey.”
Denise finished mixing up the cornbread and spices for the dressing and then started to fold laundry. The late local news began with the same report of the stolen turkeys Becky had seen only a few hours before. “Civil rights leader and Atlanta city councilman Hosea Williams has reported that his ‘Feed the Hungry Dinner’ program is without any turkey,” the news anchor said.