This weekend is the Solemnity of Christ the King. The feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to a time of growing nationalism and secularism in Europe. The pope was insisting that the church had a right to freedom and immunity from the state, that leaders of nations must give respect to Christ, and so that the faithful must let Christ reign in their lives.
The very grandeur of the title suggests the problem that this feast presents us. Christ is honored as a king, even though he continually rejected that title for himself. If he is a king, he is unlike any other king in history. The title Shepherd is more fitting Christ than King, for throughout his life Christ tended, nurtured, and healed. Ultimately his selfless love, led to his death on the cross; our Passover from sin and death.
Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. The first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621 lasted for three days, it included not only food, but also games. Furthermore, the Pilgrims gave thanks for the bountiful harvest with the Wampanoag Indians.
Thanksgiving is the feast of hospitality. As we count our blessings, we also consider who is new to our table. In this past year, how many among us, our families, friends and neighbors, have experienced unemployment or difficulty in paying bills, or have been forced to relocate or move back in with parents or relatives to survive? What would their Thanksgiving be like this year without the support of family, the community, the churches?
The arrival of colder weather is a prompt to pull out the quilts. When I look upon a quilt, I see the patchwork design. From a spiritual perspective, each piece of our spiritual quilt, is a fragment of our life story, representing the good and the bad. In those various moments, if we look closely, we will see the hand of Christ our King/our Shepherd at work. Beneath the quilt top, is the Spirit prompting us to lives of gratitude and hospitality, expressed in actions and attitudes of love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, joy, perseverance, and mercy.
Quilting secures the three layers of the quilt and provides a decorative element to the finished project. In our lives, it is God's hand that secures the events of our lives together. Our willingness to receive God’s love, mercy, acceptance, and comfort, shapes our character.
As you wrap yourself in the warmth of a quilt feel the love of God and as you look at the quilt top recall the events of your life and express gratitude for God’s companionship on your pilgrimage of life. God’s abundance belongs to all. If we are blessed, we can continue in that blessing only by making sure there is room at the table for all God’s children. This is how we give thanks.