"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful."
(New Living Translation)
"OK," you might say, "You're a bit off schedule. After all, the next holiday for us is Thanksgiving, a day when we give thanks for all the blessings in our lives." In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Advent - the Christian New Year. As we look forward to the start of the new Christian year, we will notice that things around us will begin to look different. People will decorate houses and shop windows will display signs of Christmas. This coming Sunday, we will celebrate Christ the King Sunday, a celebration of Christ as King Eternal, reigning in glory forever. Christians can consider this our equivalent of New Year's Eve because the following Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the Christian Liturgical Calendar cycle. On Christ the King Sunday and during this coming week, we should take a moment to look back at all the major events of this waning liturgical year and thank God for all the blessings that we have known throughout the year. It's appropriate that this special Sunday comes right around Thanksgiving. We can begin our week-long celebration of giving thanks to God for all the blessings in our lives, so that Thanksgiving can last for an entire week. Not just one day.
So, what are some of the liturgical blessings in our lives? As we remember all the major liturgical seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost), we note that they all reflect some action of Christ for us. As we recount our blessings, Christ should head the list.
Next, we can be thankful for our community of faith, the Body of Christ universal called The Church. We give thanks for all of the Body of Christ, including those who have come before us and those who will come after us, those who don't look like us, and those who speak different languages from us. The universal Body of Christ includes all believers of all time and from all places.
Next, our local congregations are like bridges connecting the local community to the Body of Christ. (If you haven't been to a bridge lately, come home to the church over the holidays.)
Like our human families, our church families reach out everywhere as people move in and out of the community. Just like our human families, church families like to get together, celebrate around the table. Just like our human families, our church families are not the same without you. No celebration or family gathering is ever quite complete until we are all together. Our celebration of Special Sundays help us to look forward to the time when Christ will reign eternally, and the Church - the universal Body of Christ will be together for the best family reunion of all. That will truly be Thanksgiving.
As we approach the holiday season, please remember your church family. If you are currently not connected with a church family, please consider coming home to Covington First UMC. Come home for the holidays. We'll be waiting for you.
Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at email@example.com.