Thanksgiving is upon us! And I. AM. EXCITED. There is so much to look forward to!
Right now, I am focused on the meal. For me, the highlights are the sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce (homemade and canned...they are totally different foods, both excellent!), and believe it or not, the brussel sprouts.
There's also the time with loved ones. This year, we're headed to the beach for a few days of cozying up with family. Some years we're able to gather and some years we aren't, so this time around, it's good to be together.
We also turn the corner into the run up to Christmas, with the season of Advent at our heels. Candles and carols and gratitude for all the ways Christ is present in our everyday world.
It's simply wonderful.
Except...when it's not. There's also the hard stuff: Loneliness. Grief. Family drama. That Christmas carol that makes you cry every darn time. Money stress and pressure to make the season magical. It can be a tough time of year.
And so, as I am pondering this Sunday's gospel from Matthew 25, instead of focusing on the most famous and beloved part (
for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...), I am struck by the context. This is a scene of Christ the King's judgment. There are sheep and goats. Pronouncements about eternal punishment and eternal life. Yikes.
This week, I am wondering, when is Christ's judgment GOOD news?
To hear the whole thing, come Sunday. But for today: Christ's judgment is good news whenever the world is judging you. When that family member you just can't handle shares an unwelcome opinion about your life...Christ is the only judge that matters. When you don't have the energy to put up a tree this year or to go to even one holiday party...Christ is the only judge that matters. When you can't justify going into debt to buy presents for everyone and you fear judgment from others...Christ is the only judge that matters.
And we see in this beloved passage that Christ *always* judges on behalf of those who are struggling - those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison. And truthfully, at times, each one of us is all of those things. We hunger, we thirst, we are vulnerable and exposed, we are not fully healthy and whole, we are held captive more often than we would like to admit. And we can trust Christ to be with us and for us in our most trying times.
We can trust this judge. He is the only one that matters.
So, friends in Christ, take that with you to your holiday tables, even though I hope you don't need it. And know that I am giving thanks for each one of you!
May Christ the King, our merciful judge, be with you this Thanksgiving.