Earlier today Pastor Jean and I were out shopping. At the last moment, as we were heading to the registers, she thought of “Thanksgiving napkins.” As she looked on the shelves, finding little that excited her, she finally said, with a bit of resignation in her voice, “I’m just not into Thanksgiving yet this year!”
Hey, I get it – all of sudden, Thanksgiving is staring us in the face…and then Advent…and then (yikes!) it’s Christmas already! I’m not even close to being ready for all of that.
But the calendar is not slowing down, and like it or not, it’s Thanksgiving time!
On the other hand…, yes, it’s Thanksgiving, and ready or not, there’s a lot to give thanks for.
That’s pretty obvious, right? Let’s see…turkey, cranberries, and all the other goodies…home and shelter…clothing and the toys in the garage…health and healthcare…community and country…education and recreation…friends and family (and especially for me, Pastor Jean and Rebecca)…and lots of other things, a list too long to even imagine.
But at the top of the list, of course, is Jesus!
No surprise there. Jesus. But not just any Jesus. Jesus, the Christ. Christ the King!
That’s what we lift up this weekend. And it’s the ideal way to move into Thanksgiving.
Look, we thank God for so much (remember the really long list?) And well we should. God is the giver of well, everything. Absolutely everything. Reason enough to give thanks, and thanks again.
But more than anything else, I need to have some hope in the midst of what seems to be darker and darker days. That’s always been the case – think 9/11, Y2K, the Cold War, Vietnam, WWI and WWII, the Great Recession and the Great Depression. Times have always been tough.
So maybe these days are tougher than others, but they are tough enough – political drama in Washington, an economy that might be slowing down, global warming, and terrorism. On top of that, a culture that encourages us to want more and more, so that no matter bow much we get, we are more and more empty. All of that saps our hope, drags us down, and drains us of our life.
But remember – it’s not just Jesus, or even Jesus Christ, it’s Christ the King. This weekend we will hear the story of Christ the King (spoiler alert) on his throne. His throne, the cross. There, on the cross, Christ the King holds court. Facing the power of evil, in the presence of those who are broken and vulnerable, Christ the King rules – and acts. Acts as he dies on the cross. (We don’t hear the rest of the story, but we’ve heard it before, and we know where this is heading – just days later he completes his work in the resurrection.)
So what’s the point? Jesus, the Christ, the King, God’s presence in our midst, acts to change our world. We are still confronted by all sorts of dangers, threats, and challenges. They aren’t going away. But Christ the King has acted. Christ the King has taken upon himself all that overwhelms, frightens, and even smothers us. And in our journey that is what we desperately need (even more than turkey and stuffing!) Even when the days seem the darkest, Christ the King, hanging on his throne, renews our life and restores our hope.
And that is the lead-in to Thanksgiving, the “thanks” that tops the list. Everything else flows from the hope we have in the crucified Jesus, in Christ the King.
But here’s the best part. Even when we don’t feel it, even when we aren’t really in the mood, even when it just doesn’t seem to be working, it still is. It’s still working because all of this is not about us, it’s about Jesus. It’s about God gifts of grace and life, at work in our lives through Jesus, through Christ the King, Christ crucified.
And that’s the gospel – God at work, even when we aren’t. God at work, even when we don’t see it. God at work, even when we don’t believe it. God at work, in Jesus.
So, please celebrate Thanksgiving big time. Turkey and trimmings, family and friends, maybe a few days off – all good gifts of a gracious God. But most of all, have new and renewed hope. And if it just isn’t happening right now, know that it’s still there. And when you are ready, you’ll see it. Because it’s still there!