Summary: For Christ the King Sunday: This message contrasts the one-time celebrations to which we "invite" the turkey to the full-time, all-seasons lordship of Jesus.
After Thanksgiving dinner, the men in the house retired to the family room to share in that most sacred of spiritual rituals – we worshipped at the shrine of the great god football. And it was not long before someone scored a touchdown and went into a liturgical dance in the end zone: high fives, turkey trots, and head-bumping, all in celebration of six more points for our side. For a moment, that guy with the number on his back was somebody!
But did you know that those who profess to be somebodies are usually nobodies? It is those who do not tell you how important they are who are the real champions. We may get star-struck, for a while, at those who parade their accomplishments, but at the end of the day, we prefer those who are steady, who perform consistently, who get the job done. It’s one thing to celebrate your superstardom in the end zone once or twice a season. It’s another thing to work hard, season after season, for the good of the whole team.
Consider the turkey. We have just celebrated the annual rite of turkey carving. We have oohed and ahed over his golden brownness, we have cut away at his ample white meat and have delighted ourselves in his succulent dark meat. Once or twice a year, at Thanksgiving and at Christmas, we celebrate the turkey. But, pray tell, where does he go the rest of the year? Who roasts turkeys for the Fourth of July? Turkey hot-dogs, maybe, but not turkeys. Who carves turkeys for Easter? Who serves turkey for birthdays? Who calls up Turkey Hut during the Super Bowl? Nobody! The turkey is a one-time bird. He shows up for celebrations and then fades into nowhere. He comes up on special occasions, but you wouldn’t want him every day. You can barely stand his leftovers three days after Thanksgiving!
The problem with the turkey is that he is a turkey! He professes to be somebody, but actually he is a nobody. He tells you how important he is, but he isn’t a real day-by-day, hard-work champion. He’s fine for special occasions; but to be fed every day you need more. You need something different.
And to be fed every day, spiritually, you need more than occasional bursts of emotional energy. To be fed every day, spiritually, you need more than special celebrations. You need more than being charged up and getting excited. You need more than the spiritual equivalent of turkey. You need more than occasional self-indulgence. You need Jesus Christ. And Jesus is no turkey. Jesus is more than holidays and one-time occasions. Jesus is a man for all seasons. Jesus is for all people and for all times. He is what you and I need, at the end of the day, and at the end of life. Jesus is no turkey.
Remember, those who profess to be somebodies are usually nobodies. It is those who do not tell you how important they are who are the real champions. We may get star-struck, for a while, at those who parade their accomplishments, but at the end of the day, we prefer those who are steady, who perform consistently, who get the job done.
On this Sunday after Thanksgiving, consider the turkey. And more. On this Sunday, the Festival of Christ the King, consider Jesus, standing in dignity before His accusers. Jesus is no turkey.
I am told that the turkey is really a very stupid bird. In our American mythology he may be a noble creature who sustained our Pilgrim fathers and their native American benefactors. But maybe that’s just because he was too stupid to know that they had plans for him! I am not sure who measures these things, but we are told that of all the birds, the turkey has the lowest IQ. That’s why anybody who is incompetent, anybody who is next to useless, anybody who just doesn’t get it, we call a turkey. As in, “You turkeys can’t even figure out how to vote a butterfly ballot.” The turkey does not get it. He is a stupid bird.
Sadly, many people seem to take delight in wallowing in ignorance. I have never quite understood why some religious people seem to take pride in being naive. We seem to think that if we were to learn something, it would destroy our faith.
My wife likes to tell about the time, back when we lived in the hills of eastern Kentucky, when she was tramping around in some hollow, miles from civilization, a place so remote that the school bus only got in when the creek didn’t rise. There she met Godfrey Isaacs, a true mountain man – self-reliant, self-confident, and barely able to read. When Margaret and her friends asked Godfrey Isaacs about his life, they found that he read no newspapers, he listened to no radio, he watched no TV. He knew very little about what was happening in the world at large. But Godfrey Isaacs said it didn’t matter to him, because he did have the one book that mattered. He had the Bible. And, said he, “I read my Bible, and it tells me what has happened, what is happening, and what’s going to happen. It’s all I need.”