A full agenda this week. Attention to the upcoming Thanksgiving celebration need not overshadow the Reign of Christ Sunday. These are easily complementary. Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday is an opportunity to be reminded who is the one we have chosen to follow. It is an opportunity to give thanks for the author of salvation and the one who has given us the gift of the church, the fellowship of the body that we celebrate each time we gather in person or online.
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the abundance of God. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all that God provides. There are clearly enough resources for everyone in the world to live fully. The problem we face is one of distribution, of sharing. So, how do we give thanks when there are many, maybe even some in the congregation, who don’t have enough? How do we celebrate the abundance of God while acknowledging the selfishness or inequality of the human community?
Our text for this week invites us to see Christ, the Christ of glory and the Lord of us all, in the faces of the “least of these.” Is this a time to celebrate the ministries of the church that give hands-on help to those in dire need? Are there those in prison ministries who can be thanked for their witness and service? Are there those who work in the medical profession, particularly the ER doctors and nurses who work on everyone, even those without means? Can you celebrate food bank workers or resale shop volunteers? Or is it time to challenge the congregation to find ways to live out their gratitude by serving others?
Remember when issuing the invitation, it is not about duty or about our “ought to.” The invitation is about finding new ways to be thankful. We express our gratitude by giving, by serving, by loving. Maybe worship could include ways to sign up for service. It could be done via text or email, if you are not meeting in person. Or even if you are and don’t want to run the risk of bringing people so close together to sign forms, a text or online sign up is ideal. The value of a text is that it can be done right then, rather than going home to think about it or forgetting to do it later.
As you can see in the liturgical resources, we switch from the green of Ordinary Time to the white of Reign of Christ Sunday. It is also the last Sunday of the Christian year. So, this is a culmination of all that has gone before us, a reminder of the Christ we follow and our gratitude for all that we have done together, even during a difficult year. Let there be a party atmosphere as we give thanks for God’s goodness and for our place in the body of Christ. This is Christ in his glory.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.