The gospel reading for this week (Christ the King Sunday) is this:
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. [From John 18]
If you’d been present for this conversation, you’d have witnessed something very odd.
Pilate nearly laughs at a man who is called “King” by some. The man standing before him has a bruised face from being punched a few hours before. He’s exhausted from staying up all night. His friends have betrayed or deserted him. After this encounter, Pilate, the Roman governor, has the man flogged. The next day he’ll be executed. Pilate holds all the power. Not much of a king, that other one.
So it seems.
But looks can be deceiving. We know the end of this story, which is about the turning of the tide in favor of the wrongly imprisoned, the poor, the ill-treated. King? Well, not in the usual way. But still, one who testifies to the truth.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. People will sit down, alone or together, to feast or famine. Meals will be eaten in the company of loved ones, or on the go at work. Some will eat in the hospital, while others will be in their home or someone else’s. Many will dine on turkey and all the fixings, some will drive through a fast food restaurant, some will eat whatever they can find and afford.
It can all be deceiving, can’t it? It should go without saying that the circumstances and menu of the Thanksgiving Day meal are not determined by nor do they define how happy you are. It’s impossible for anyone else to know the truth about your heart, because looks can be deceiving. The truth of the day is in gratitude, sharing, peace, joy. Sometimes in difficult circumstances, those things are hard to come by. Sometimes in easy circumstances, those things are hard to come by.
If you are a stranger to peace, joy, and gratitude this year, may those who are lucky enough to have them befriend you.
And if you are among the lucky and blessed, may sharing be one of the truths you live by.
For if looks can be deceiving, shared grace is transparent.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2012