This homily was my first real challenge, as I wanted to marry the ideas of Thanksgiving with the feast of Christ the King. How well did I do?
I love cranberry sauce. I don’t want to offend anyone here, I am sure many of you make great cranberry sauce, but I am partial to the jellied stuff that comes in a can. For me, that can shaped glob of red, sitting in a fine crystal bowl is the very symbol of Thanksgiving. This holiday has many meanings to many people, and I have noticed there is only one thing that seems to be held in common. For some this is a day of family, for some this is a day to celebrate veterans and our national ancestry, for many, this day is a day to sit and watch the game. But for everyone, it’s about turkey.
Turkey, that’s the main thing. No ribs on thanksgiving, no steaks, no crab, turkey. Turkey the symbol for all this holiday means to all those traditions and things we live out on this day.
What I love about this holiday, is we aren’t just talking about what we are thankful for, we actually live out what we are thankful for. Watching the grandkids run in the yard, the laughter and jokes rolling through the halls, and everyone filled to the brim with delicious food that has been lovingly prepared. It’s the best kind of holiday.
Today, we celebrate the end of the Christian year, next weekend we begin anew with Advent. We take time to remember not only the end of year, but the end of life, the last things, Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. We pray for our beloved dead. We ponder what our own deaths may bring. We renew our goals of becoming a heavenly people. We look into our futures, and see what lies beyond the veil, from our illusions and into the reality of eternity. And what we see is a King, and a Kingdom.
I am glad we celebrate thanksgiving now, because it is in my mind, the perfect view of the essence of what heaven is. The great banquet, where everyone is free to be their true selves, where everyone is known and loved, where the game is always on, our smiles are always bright and laughing, and our bellies are always full. Jesus often talked about the kingdom as this kind of banquet.
At the same time, it won’t be the same at all. Because at the head of this thanksgiving table sits our Lord himself, clothed in his own unending light. As we get to see him as he really is, the very look of him is so bright that it will take our breath away. We will be full, because we will be full of Him.
This King, and this Kingdom are not at all like anything we have ever experienced. A Kingdom built not on politics and backbiting, but on the washing of feet. A Kingdom of paupers who are royalty. A kingdom where love is the only currency. A King who’s greatness lies in His Cross, a King who does not put on airs, but who’s light cannot be denied. A King of humility higher and stronger than fires of the sun. A king who is not served, but instead who serves his people.
The best way we can become a people of this Kingdom, is by living the values of this Kingdom now, by becoming a heavenly people now. Tomorrow morning, the Knights of Columbus will be working at the Betty Chinn Center, preparing tons and tons of food so that the homeless in our community will have a thanksgiving too. Across town, people work tirelessly at the pregnancy care center to help women with unplanned pregnancies. An army of volunteers who bring communion to the homebound. Nurses and doctors at rest homes, prison chaplains, the men and women who defend our nation in the armed services, police and firemen, this is all holy work, pointed at this new Kingdom.
Let us not be afraid to join them, to help build up this kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s not stand idly by while others step forth to serve. We must join our voices to the heavenly choir, our labor to the heavenly work, and join our hearts to the heavenly King. For in the end, it is not the poor, the lost and the forgotten that we serve, but the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. If there is anything we should be thankful for this thanksgiving, it should not be the turkey, but instead we should be thankful, for being able to give something of real value to the King, to love and care for his children.
We should be thankful, that we can partake in the giving.