The words leaped out from the postcard that rested on a counter in, of all places, a local business establishment – EVERYONE IS INVITED! – THANKSGIVING DINNER. On the flip side it read, “Maybe things have been hard this year, or maybe family has become too spread out, or maybe you just want to come for some fellowship. Whatever your reason, you are welcome to enjoy a meal with our community of believers.”
True to its words, the invitation placed there beckoned not just believers, not just the needy, but all to the First Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner held by Coastal Community Church in Port St. John, Fla. On Thanksgiving Day the parking lot filled up as greeters welcomed everyone. They wore t-shirts that read, “Don’t just go to church, BE the church! Engage, connect, impact.”
Head Pastor Harry Kennedy explained how one family donated ten turkeys, which were baked for them by Slow-N-Low Bar-B-Q of Cocoa Beach, Fla. Others prepared traditional holiday fare of ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, and yams. Publix supermarket donated the bread, but not just rolls. Several tables were piled high with packages of sliced bread, buns, rolls and croissants to be taken home after the meal. And then there was dessert – pies of all sorts, cookies, decorated cupcakes and cakes, and fudge.
Despite the delicious food available in great variety and abundance, it was not the most outstanding feature of this holiday event. The most inspiring thing was watching how the members of Coastal Community Church turned out in droves, coming together to lay down their lives and give of their time to serve all who came through the doors. From eight year old to sixty, men, women, boys and girls, the church members passed among the tables wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, offering to refill drinks and presenting trays filled with delectable dessert selections.
There is a verse in Scripture where Jesus addresses such behavior by believers.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. . . Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in’ . . . Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see You a stranger and take you in . . .’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40 various: NKJV)
In a me-first generation where it’s everyone for themselves, the selfless behavior of Coastal Community Church is a shining example to all.
Mark your calendar for next Thanksgiving and give this article to anyone who may not think they have a place to go, because Jesus has provided a way through this family of believers, His servants, to feed and care for a hurting world.