Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Ending the liturgical year with moments of Thanksgiving
It has been customary that at the end of the Calendar year, at the end of December, to take a look back at the year - we see the Time Magazine "Person of the Year," and special editions of newspapers, news shows, and other media outlets that reflect on the year for us. It can also be a rich time at the end of the calendar year for us to reflect upon the year, though I imagine that most of us take more time to look ahead, to make those "New Years Resolutions" that often fail, but we still strive to keep them.
This week is the final week of the liturgical year, we are finishing up the last week after Pentecost, which began back in those warm days of May, and has continued through the summer and through most of the fall. Some churches recognize the last Sunday of the liturgical year as "Christ the King" Sunday, and while this is a relatively common practice in the Episcopal Church, my friend Scott Gunn over at "Seven Whole Days" reminded me this week that this "holiday" is not actually prescribed in our Book of Common Prayer. Whether or not your church celebrates this week as Christ the King Sunday, you probably are celebrating Thanksgiving in some form or another - and many people love this holiday; there is a unifying aspect of this holiday, as we all can give thanks, no matter what our creed or world view may be.
For Christians, this week is a kind of a "getting ready to get ready" week, as we prepare to begin the season of Advent - a season of expectation. It is a strange season, because we know that Christ has already come, so it is difficult to just set that aside and pretend that we are somehow in the time period before the baby was born to Mary and Joseph. So, we spend some time trying to live in this time of expectation, knowing that Jesus Christ has come, but also knowing that the fullness of God has not yet fully broken into our lives in the deepest way possible. We know that Christ has come, and yet we also pray that Christ may come again.
In this week of expectation for the season of expectation, a season of advent before Advent, it is wholly appropriate and wonderful to take time to take stock, to give thanks for the year - for the blessings, and also the times of struggle, for the ways that we have learned and grown, and even for those challenges that have come our way. It may be a great time to "clear the decks," to set aside some of the past hurt and toxicity that we have allowed to fester. Perhaps it is a time to recognize the good even in those folks who get under our skin, and those interactions that rub us the wrong way.
I hope we all can give thanks for all that we are and all that we have during this week of Thanksgiving, even in uneasy and uncertain times, and that we will all pray that we can enter the Season of Advent with new vision, new energy, and an openness to whatever may be born in us in this new liturgical year.
~ Rev. Peter M. Carey