Immigrants

IMG_2623It is a very old table cloth. We have had it for over 20 years. Each Thanksgiving we put it on our table and at the close of our meal we invite everyone to write something for which they are thankful. We have had many guests over the years. Some are folks who live in the area but do not have family nearby. Some are “adopted” family who have a standing invitation to be with us. And others are friends who have come from all over the world. We are reminded of these friends each year as we read the notes they have left behind. For us the tablecloth has become a mosaic of gratefulness.

Many of us have immigrant stories. Some may have lost their stories over the generations, but for others the stories have remained fresh as they have passed from generation to generation. These stories remind us of the diversity of our heritages and yet also encourage us regarding our adopted common culture.

Our church, Beaverton Foursquare, is a multiethnic, multigenerational church. After 9:30AM services each Sunday many of us gather as family at what we call the Mosaic Fellowship. It is a time to connect after services and enjoy time together. Thanksgiving weekend is an especially significant gathering since after our meal together we get to hear new immigrant stories. This year started with two junior high masters of ceremony. Natalie’s parents are from Taiwan and she was born here in the US. She lead with the story of the first Thanksgiving. David is from Serbia. He talked about traditions and the development of this day of thanks over the years.  After that we heard from 6 immigrants: a woman from Serbia, a woman from Congo, a woman from Kenya, a man from Kyrgyzstan, a woman from China, and a man from Indonesia. As I listened to each story I felt more and more proud of the country that my own Irish immigrant family came to over 120 years ago.  We are all grateful to be part of this great country and each of our stories are stirring reminders of our journeys to freedom.

This is a day of thanks and a day or remembering and a day to thank God for a bounty of blessings in this great land.

About marknicklas

Mark Nicklas is a husband, father, son and follower of Jesus Christ. He is a pastor at Beaverton Foursquare Church and an adjunct professor at Multnomah University, where he earned his doctorate in Cultural Engagement. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok, this site is a place for talking about the identity of the church with respect to the cultures we live in. You are invited to share the journey.
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