How to Represent Jesus at Your Thanksgiving Gathering

How many people will be around the table with you on Thanksgiving?

How many of them are following Jesus?

Thanksgiving offers all kinds of opportunities for memory making. Like the year we ate roasted sweet potatoes beside our pumpkin pie because they took  f o r e v e r  to finish cooking. Or the year (years!) that we examined and compared the Black Friday ads then decided it just wasn’t worth the effort!

How will you intentionally represent Jesus during your Thanksgiving celebrations? Click through for some encouragement!

Thanksgiving is also an amazing missions opportunity. We are commanded to be representatives of Christ in all we do or say. Thanksgiving gives us a great chance to do that with an audience held captive by the promise of pie.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reach people who are close to you but far from God.Click To Tweet

Maybe representing Jesus is easy at your Thanksgiving table because your whole family is serving him. Or maybe your gathering will be like mine and have some family members who are walking far from him, even some who have purposefully turned from him in the choices they’ve made.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus

How do we bring Jesus to a table full of people like that?

We have to remember Jesus’ heart. Mark tells us that Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Loving people –in any condition- is the heart of Jesus. It’s what He came for! As his representatives, we must be clothed in love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14)

What can we do specifically to represent Jesus at our Thanksgiving table?

  • Be present

Don’t be distracted by a phone or device.

Choose to fully participate in the festivities, even if it’s out of your comfort zone. (I’m talking to myself here, friends! By about 15 minutes in, I’m usually ready to find a quiet room all by myself.)

Don’t allow yourself to get so wrapped up in tasks that you neglect people.

Listen, really listen, to the people gathered around you. The holidays have a way of causing people to pause and reflect. As a representative of Jesus, we should listen deeply and intentionally. Which leads me to the next point…

  • Be watchful

Watch for opportunities to be the ears and voice of Jesus. Listen for chances to naturally share some of the story of what God has done for you. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15)

Watch for opportunities to be radically kind and loving with your words and actions. Be crazy encouraging to others. Be alert to what people are saying and not saying.

Have the courage to go there when prompted or to hold back when necessary. Pray for discernment about this!

For some of us, being watchful might mean watching our tongues. It might mean we don’t say some of the judgments our minds are making. That we choose to see our family member as Jesus sees them- as sinners, just like we were, in desperate need of his saving grace. It means “taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) so that our thoughts don’t become our words so that our words don’t become a poor representation of our savior.

Be watchful for anyone at the table who seems to be struggling or appears to be left out. Step in to offer kindness and love.

This Thanksgiving, represent Jesus by being radically kind and surprisingly thoughtful.Click To Tweet
  • Be a servant

This is the most visible way of all to be like Jesus.  Serve others. Be on the lookout for ways to help.

Help the hostess cook or set the table.
Hold the baby for the tired mama so she can enjoy her meal.
Clean up the mess that someone else’s kids made.
Pour the tea or beverages for everyone.
Deliver slices of pie to those who have moved on to watching football.
Put away the leftovers so the hostess can enjoy her guests.

We represent Jesus well when we serve those around us- How to Represent Jesus at Your Thanksgiving Gathering

The king we represent came to serve, not to be served. We represent him well when we serve those around us.

During Thanksgiving, we interact with people who may not be a daily part of our lives. Treat this holiday gathering as a missions opportunity. Purpose in your heart that it will be an enjoyable experience, with delicious food, where you will be the ears, voice, hands, and feet of Jesus.

Originally published November 18, 2016.

Let’s talk about it in the comments! Are these things easy or difficult for you to do? What other ideas do you have about showing Jesus to our families?

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15 Comments on "How to Represent Jesus at Your Thanksgiving Gathering"

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Cathy McIntosh

This is a lovely, practical post that helps us confront the many emotions that fill our hearts on Thanksgiving. Thank you for the tips on moving our focus from ourselves and our own troubles to others that are in our midst that day. I pinned this for future reference and trust others will find it inspirational on Pinterest as well. <3 Cathy


I love this post. Its practical and heartfelt. What I love is how your heart of hospitality comes through. We can apply these tips to any hosting event. Such a great post

Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

I like the practical reminders you give and am going to share them with my immediate family as we host extended family members. There are about 20 of us, so that right there is a lot to be thankful for!

Dear Beka! Today’s post “How to Represent Jesus at Your Thanksgiving Gathering” was a valuable contribution to the Christian community, filled with info and value. Your blog post has beautiful images 🙂 I like what you said about Thanksgiving being a mission opportunity. It sure is! Nothing can unite people like food, right? The Bible verse from Mark that you quote is spot on: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The big task is to share the Gospel with those who need… Read more »
Lisa Quintana

Thanks, Beka, for your wisdom on representing Jesus at Thanksgiving. Each year, this holiday is the “family reunion” event we have and it’s celebrated with many non-believing family members. Your advice on how to “show Jesus” with our actions is wonderful reminder of what it is truly all about!


Love everything about this blog post! Especially the part about disconnecting from our phones. I think I’m going to start a tradition where we put our phones on silent or in a box while we all eat dinner. For at least a few hours of time, so we can connect face to face. I’m excited about my idea already… I hope my family members are too haha!!


This is such a great post Beka! I have many extended family members that are either non-believers or not as secure in their faith. I love your practical tips and ways to represent Jesus. Discernment is important! We need to meet our loved ones where they are and sometimes that means use other opportunities to show them Jesus’ heart rather than just talk about Him. Tweeted and Pinned!