I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
In memory of my father,
who asked me whether to invite a beggar home with us
and waited for my answer.
~Kelly Johnson, The Fear of Beggars
Reign of Christ Sunday gets us ready to “ring in” the new year in the Christian calendar. On the following Sunday we will begin that journey toward a weary world that is centered in a stable—a substandard location for a child to be born—to find, astonishingly, the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the promised one, earth’s hope, the advent of God.
This Sunday, then, functions like a check-in or check-up. It does so by way of an implicit and unexpected promise. Feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers. Clothing. Tending. Healing. Visiting. As we are doing these things, we are not only mending the world, we are putting ourselves in the very locations where Christ himself dwells, where we ourselves can be transformed and thrive.
In Matthew 5:42, Jesus tells his disciples “Give to the one who asks of you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” This is not a strategy for systemic change. It is an invitation to habituate ourselves out of the love of money and into the love of neighbor. “Strangerliness is a habit that has been learned slowly,” writes Kelly Johnson. “We will unlearn it with difficulty, and we will not do so without making changes, in our finances, our locations, our ways of doing business, and our encounters with strangers.”
We end the year with an invitation to orient ourselves toward the One we will encounter in the beginning of the next. And to our surprise we discover we are putting ourselves in healing’s way. We are gaining our own lives back. What a strange and wonderful thing! Our Thanksgiving belongs to God!
Enter into worship this Sunday.
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-24 † Psalm 100 † Ephesians 1:15-23 † Matthew 25:31-46
About the Art: Food for the Hungry, Drink for the Thirsty, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57571 [retrieved November 21, 2023]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biberach_Spital_Relief_img04.jpg - Andreas Praefcke.
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