By Heidi Saxton
It’s that time of year again. Time to gird our loins … and bring out the stretchy pants in anticipation of four days of family togetherness.
Then, on Sunday we turn over the last page on our liturgical calendars to find we have reached the Catholic “new year,” the first Sunday of Advent. Last Sunday we celebrated “Christ the King,” giving us a valuable bit of eschatological perspective, at least temporarily distracting us from the daily concerns and consternations that so often preoccupy our thoughts. Truly gripping, life-or-death concerns like, “Do I make Dutch apple or pumpkin cheesecake this year?” Or “How can I get the television to short-circuit at dinner time so the only Redskins and Cowboys at my table will be costumes from the dress-up box?”
Ah, Thanksgiving, a time for friends and family to come together to remember and be grateful for the blessings of the past year. Or (depending on your family) test the limits of fraternal unity by holding forth on polarizing political, religious, and social views ad nauseum.
What’s a good hostess to do under these circumstances? Well, today’s first reading offers one possibility: a show-stopper of a prayer from the Book of Revelation that makes the perfect Thanksgiving grace …
“Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
or glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev 15:3-4).
Can you just see it, those holy, harp-brandishing saints standing on the sea of glass, having won victory over the forces of the evil one — true evil, bent on the very destruction of souls? And how was this victory won? By dancing with schadenfreude over the fallen bodies of those whose views did not perfectly align with their own?
No, rather, victory is won when we conquer ourselves. The enemy is defeated when we lay down our pride and self-will so that God might strip us of every unworthy impulse. For it is only when we utterly surrender to the claims of Christ the King can we rightly hear the voices of the prophets. Only then can we recognize the light through the unrelenting darkness. Only when we give praise and glory to the only One who rightly deserves it … will we see our rightful place in this world, and recognize that His is the only perspective that matters. So … Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin.
There, forever purified, in thy presence to abide;
Come with all thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.
About the author:
Heidi is a wife and adoptive mother, contributing writer to WINE, and author of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the follow-up companion, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Servant, released January 2017). Heidi received a graduate degree in theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 2012, having converted to the Catholic faith in 1995 from the evangelical tradition. She met her husband, Craig, at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club, and lives with her family (including two special-needs teenagers, a longsuffering Aussie shepherd and a snuggly Chiweenie) near South Bend, Indiana.