It’s Thanksgiving week, and it was my turn to be Lector at Trinity Episcopal Church last Sunday. The Lector is the lay person who reads the Old Testament lesson, the week’s Psalm, and Epistle lesson during the service, followed by the Vicar with this week’s appointed Gospel reading. I had been running a bit late and only had a chance to study and rehearse my own readings. The theme was the privilege God reserves for Himself to be the final judge, and for ourselves as the Body of Christ to love and to support one another. Not having read through the Gospel lesson, I was wondering which reading had been chosen for this week’s Lectionary, and how the Vicar would tie together all four readings.
The writers of the Lectionary were dedicated Church men and women (from five denominations, and not just my own), and the Gospel did indeed tie in. As I listened to the Vicar, I realized his words also tied in with this week’s news, and with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as well. The reading was from St. Matthew, and is one familiar to most of the readership of The Edgefield Advertiser: the Lord admonishes his disciples, and by inference all of us, to treat each neighbor in need as if he or she might be Christ Himself. We should honor them and support them, and not worry whether they “deserve” our help or whether they, like us, are sinners. The tie-in with the other lessons was clear: God would sort out the sheep from the goats, and our calling was to help and to love rather than to judge one another.
Here in South Carolina, there were two big news items this week. In one, the federal court system (and by officially deciding not to review lower courts’ decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court) decided that after much argument and much delay, adult South Carolinians who have fallen in love with one another were to be permitted to marry, their gender notwithstanding. And in the other, the President announced he would take it on himself, pending legislation by the Congress to the contrary, to allow immigrants with immediate family members who are U.S. citizens to remain in the country for the next three years without fear of deportation. Hopefully, he said, Congress would enact legislation more permanent than an Executive Order during those three years.
The Gospel lesson called on us to love, and not to judge; whether conduct is sinful or not is the Lord’s to call; ours is to help our brothers and sisters to live in peace and security. One specific admonishment was to emulate those to whom Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”
All of us in Edgefield County have much to be thankful for, this season and every season. For many of us, the laws of our state have been supportive for many years, and the blessings of Thanksgiving if not brand new are nevertheless profound. But for others of us in Edgefield County and indeed throughout our state and our nation, the laws are suddenly more welcoming than they ever have been before – all because of changes in the work for many years, but finally brought to fruition last week, the week before Thanksgiving, 2014.
We all of us have reason to be thankful this year. Let us share that joy with one another, and welcome all of our neighbors who now have the freedom to marry. And let us vow this Thanksgiving season as a society of brothers and sisters to provide food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, care for the sick, solace to the prisoner, and welcome to the stranger. Happy Thanksgiving!