The Miami Springs Baptist Church held its annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 22 and the turkey and fixings were to die for as the church has hosted this event for 32 years and all its guests were reminded that the value of family, faith and traditions trump any Thanksgiving feast.
Back in 1982, Miami Springs Baptist Church and Miami Springs residents James and Inez Jagessar began hosting the special feast on the Saturday evening before Thanksgiving. It began many moons ago with four young sons by his side, but James Jagessar now has four sons, four daughter-in-laws, many grandchildren and many friends who help to prepare and serve a delicious meal for the community.
Church members decorated the fellowship hall with festive fall décor. Placemats adorned with pilgrims and turkeys lined the tables. Pastor Bill Whiddon welcomed and thanked everyone for coming. A common joke among church goers is everyone worries when a pastor grabs the microphone, but Pastor Bill reassured everyone, “I’ll have you out before midnight.”
“Being thankful is very appropriate any time of year, not just on Thanksgiving,” shared Pastor Bill. “The word ‘thankful’ appears 49 times in the Bible. One of the things that happens to us when we’re thankful is it changes our attitude. It helps us to be grateful, it helps us to be positive, it helps us to be gracious, and it helps us to be loving and humble. It does something to us on the inside when someone says thank you. Parents know what it’s like when your children sometimes say thank when you didn’t tell them to. It means a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it means a lot to God when we say thank you to Him, too. The book of Psalms reminds us who gives us all things. Paul reminds us in Corinthians to be thankful to God for his gifts that are too wonderful for words. A gift that is too wonderful for words is a gift that I’m still going to have after a long, long time. The most important gift that you can ever receive is the gift of Jesus Christ because the relationship that we have with him is still going to be important 100,000 years from now, or 200,000 years from now.”
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Close to 100 people filled the fellowship hall and listened intently. Children gathered at the kiddie table and adults enjoyed conversation and, of course, everyone enjoyed the turkey dinner. Before dessert was served, worship leader Rev. Ruben Dario led the guests with a beautiful song of Thanksgiving and prayer.
Dario asked guests to stand and hold the flickering candle that was on their table. Dario shared a tradition that he does at his home around the Thanksgiving table. “Stand where you are holding the candle, and share one word of thanks and praise,” he directed the guests.
One by one, table by table, people stood and shared their words of thanksgiving. Guests gave thanks for their community, their family, their friends; they gave thanks for health, healing and happiness. They gave thanks for God’s love and for everyday blessings. Guests publicly thanked the Jagessar family for cooking the meal. A few laughs were had when one guest shared that they were thankful to live in Miami where Thanksgiving is not so cold and another funny man shared that he was thankful for the dessert that would soon be coming out of the kitchen.
After another successful Thanksgiving meal under his belt, James Jagessar reflected privately upon why he is so devoted to this tradition year after year.
“This is just marvelous,” said Jagessar, sporting his well-known huge grin upon his face. “This is an American tradition that we’ll always keep going. I love America and I love Jesus. He brought me here and I’m working for him along with all of the members of our church. We do it because we love the Lord. We do it to honor Him.”
The meal didn’t cost the guests a penny, but donations were happily received. Like they do every year, all donations went to children’s charities and homeless outreach. When Jagessar was asked if he enjoys working with his sons by his side, he enthusiastically responded, “It’s all about faith, family values, and traditions.”