Scripture: Luke 17:20-37
Key verses: (20-21) “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Reflection: Happy Thanksgiving to you! I hope this day is filled with the blessings of family and friends, and a bounty of food to celebrate an abundance of blessing in your life. Though today is thanksgiving for us in the United States, the daily lectionary does not take into account such holidays. Luke 17:20-37 is not a passage that I would recommend reading at the Thanksgiving table this afternoon or this evening. It would certainly not make most folks “Top Ten” lists of favorite passages for Thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6-7, or many of the Psalms, (9:1, 95:2-3, 107:8-9;) these are great passages for Thanksgiving, but Luke 17:20-37?
This passage is about the end of the world as we know it, and the coming of the kingdom of God. Apocalyptic visions are not appropriate for the Thanksgiving table. Who wants to hear about Noah and the flood, or Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah, or scenes from a Left Behind novel when we’re celebrating Thanksgiving?
Yet there is a profound message in this. Life is indeed fragile. Things can change in an instant. In ministry, I’m reminded of this each and every week as people we love and care about in our congregation receive news that ends the world as they have known it. I think about all the people in California whose lives have been devastated by these fires; dozens killed, over a thousand missing, thousands homeless, hundreds of thousands of lives impacted. This all unfolded so quickly, without warning.
Perhaps the message we can glean from Jesus’ wisdom this Thanksgiving Day is that we never know what tomorrow holds, so be thankful for today. Do not let the stress that can come with family gatherings and feast preparations get in the way of living into the blessings today brings. Indeed, the kingdom of God is among us, we have only to take the time to see it. Today, may our eyes be opened to see God’s beloved community all around us, to embrace our blessings, and give thanks to God.
Prayer: Open the eyes of my heart today, O Lord, that I might see the abundance of your kingdom all around me. Help me live in the moment and count the blessings that fill this day that I might be defined by a thankful heart and a generous spirit. May I trust that whatever tomorrow holds, you hold tomorrow, and I can trust you with it, because you have shown your abundant love for me and for this world in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].