Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Can you believe, it is already November and the end of 2019 is fast approaching? November begins with the celebration of All Saints and thoughts of those who have died and of our own eventual deaths come to mind. Thus, we remember with gratitude all who have gone before us and touched our lives in many and various ways. We are thankful for the harvest of memories, the legacy passed down, and the blessings of those beloved saints.
As a result, we naturally reflect upon our own lives, recalling both the joys and sorrows, accomplishments and regrets, blessings and sins. It is a time for repentance, personal reform, and improvement; this idea for Christians comes from our Jewish roots and traditions. Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, begins the process of repentance and return, of repairing relationships as forgiveness is asked of God and one another. Prayer and alms giving are part of the work of restoration.
Next is Yom Kippur, the day of Cleansing or Atonement, the slate between each person and God is wiped clean. Then follows Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, it is a celebration of thanksgiving for the harvest and a reminder of both poverty and abundance. Sukkot symbolizes everyone’s vulnerability to the forces of nature, especially that of the homeless and poor. Present day Sukkot offers hospitality to others, enjoys the fruits of harvest, and celebrates God’s continued providence for mankind.
All the preparation and rejoicing over the impermanent things of the world alludes to what is truly eternal and important—life eternal with our God. This preparation brings us to the end of our journey, to the gathering in and storing away, to the time of harvesting, reckoning, and thanksgiving.
Spiritually, we take measure of our own lives, what we have produced—our fruitfulness. With what spiritual resources will we face death? When death comes, will it find us among the sheep or the goats? Where have our choices led us? Which side are we on?
November’s Scripture passages focus on the baptismal reality: in baptism, our old life dies and we receive new life. Baptism washes us with grace and clothes us in the garment of salvation; we put on Christ and are led into a genuine, loving new life.
When the Son of God comes in glory, He will invite the faithful to come into His inheritance, giving gifts of food and drink, shelter and understanding, time and attention, comfort and respect.
Thanksgiving is the theme of these last weeks of the church year and blessedness is the vision. We see ourselves as part of a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language. There is no counting of this multitude; it is beyond all computation. We see the many and varied blessings of God; each saint is unique and irreplaceable.
The church year ends with the festival of Christ the King and our hope of sharing in the richness and glories of God, our inheritance among the saints in God’s eternal peace.
Giving thanks in Christ’s service,