Maybe you remember the following story. I told it about this time last year, and it seems appropriate for the day.
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a while. “What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“Well, what were the people like where you came from?” replied the farmer.
“Oh man, they were self-centered, back-biters, always concerned about the next dollar and who was whose best friend or in the trendiest circle! A pretty superficial lot, really! I just had to get out of that town!”
“Wow! Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort of people in the next town.”
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and turned a different direction at the next intersection, while the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction as the previous stranger, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you came from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hardworking, honest, and friendly — a pretty positive community, really. Seems like we brought out the best in each other. I was sorry to have to leave them.”
“Well, you have nothing to worry about, my friend,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort of people in the next town.”
Food for Thought:
There seems to be a very real aspect of God’s Kingdom that is as present to us as our next breath, and as real to us as the thrilling sight of the first snowfall or the joy of first blossoms in spring or the quieting call of a trickling forest stream or the exhilaration at a child’s laughter. But the Kingdom can also be just as real as the anxiousness of a stranger’s approach or the mistrust of a friend’s motives or the angst in recognizing someone else’s pain or the fear in the midst of change.
Our text this Sunday, from Matthew 25, is the familiar parable of the goats and sheep. In it we are reminded that recognizing God’s Kin-dom, seeing and caring for the Christ in “the least of these,” may depend largely on the fear, doubt, gratitude, praise, compassion, or awe we bring to the moment, to each encounter, in our lives. Doesn’t it seem to you that where gratitude and awe are offered first, peace and wonder are somehow always present? Compassion is somehow always a bit more natural? Yet the practice of gratitude and awe can be difficult at times. Life can feel completely out of sorts, anxious, as if our reality is cracking up and falling apart. Thanksgiving, it seems, is a practice that was founded not simply on generosity, but on generosity shared in the midst of conflict, mystery, and even fear. Somehow that’s when the light can most brilliantly make its impact in our lives and the lives of others.
Join us this Sunday as we explore stories of gratitude and light that reveal the bigger picture of the Kin-dom of God and one simple practice that can bring joy and hope to each moment.
Thanksgiving Sunday, November 20
Featuring the music of Leonard Cohen, Phillip Phillips and more
“Thanksgiving — It’s A Big House”!
See you then!