......is traditionally the time to think about Judgement. Another hard thing to think about when all around you is focused on shopping and cooking and partying and busy-ness. But isn't that just a microcosm, distorted only slightly, of what our lives and thoughts about Judgement are every single day? It certainly is in my case.
I spent a lot of time in my younger days thinking that God loves us so much that no matter what we did, we'd all go to Heaven. No Judgement. No accounting, other than a quick "Oh, sorry about that, what did I know?" Not much penitence, just an acceptance of "We're all good folks, under the skin, ya know?" Cheap grace. Grace that didn't cost me doing whatever it was I really wanted to do. Grace that didn't require change.
And we always think that if people just got to see God, that they would immediately be overcome with his light and goodness and they would want to follow him and be with him forever.
But you know what? The angels did. And some of them still rebelled. Looking at the glory of God, they turned their faces to it. Non serviam.
So why would it be different for us? Are we humans so much better than the angels that we would all fall in line in a face to face encounter with Christ? Look, we're the same people who lived in the Garden and threw it away (and I would have been first in line to eat the forbidden fruit). We're the people who crossed through the Red Sea with dry feet, and longed for the onions in Egypt. We're the people who threw palm branches in front of the Christ on one day and howled for his crucifixion the next.
It's not a happy clappy, I'm OK, You're OK, type world. The Church is wise to remind us that there's a judgement a'comin'. There are choices to be made every day. The time is NOW. Yes, NOW, in the middle of Christmas. Here. Today. "Now is the acceptable time. Now is the time of salvation."
So, think a little on Judgement this week. It's a counterpoint to eggnog.
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt 25:31-34, 41, 46)