Sunday, November 25, 2012

Feast of Christ the King

Today, the last Sunday of the Church Year, is known as the Feast of Christ the King. The new Church Year begins anew next Sunday, December 2, with the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent has long been one of my favorite seasons in the Church Year as it marks the end of the loooooong Ordinary Time. And Ordinary Time isn't called so because it's "ordinary," as in not special, but because of the way the passing weeks are marked with ordinal numbers: The First Sunday After Trinity, The Second Sunday After Trinity, etc.

Today marks The Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Trinity, so Ordinary Time stretches out for nearly half of the calendar year. I'm happy to see the liturgical color green (symbolizing our growth in the faith) slip away and the lovely purple of Advent (and Lent) be dusted off and displayed. The purple of Advent symbolizes the Kingly nature of Christ as we await the celebration of His First Coming as a babe in Bethlehem and, more importantly, await His Second Coming promised in the Scriptures. That's what Advent is all about: waiting and hoping.

And I love it.

Here is today's meditation from The High Calling, written by Mark D. Roberts:

How the king rejoices in your strength, O LORD! He shouts with joy because you give him victory.Psalm 21:3
Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in the Christian Year (or Church Year or Liturgical Year). What began in Advent a year ago is now coming to a conclusion. We started out yearning for the coming of a king who would bring God's salvation and peace. Today, the coming of God's kingdom is celebrated throughout the world as Christians worship Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Psalm 21 speaks clearly into our celebration of Christ the King. Originally, it was a psalm of David that celebrated the victory or the coronation of an earthly king (perhaps David himself). Speaking to the Lord, David says, "You welcomed [the king] back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold upon his head" (21:3).
In this image of the crowning of the King of Israel, we see something of the future. We catch a glimpse of the day when Christ will be crowned as King of all creation, when every creature in heaven and on earth will bow before him (Phil. 2:9-11). In that day, God's peace will fill the earth. The wolf and the lamb will dwell together in harmony (Isa. 11:6). Wars will cease, and weapons of war will be turned into tools for farming (Isa. 2:4). God's justice will prevail throughout the world (Isa. 42:4).
We aren't there yet, are we? Yet, in anticipation of what is to come, and in recognition of the fact that Christ is King even today, we celebrate him and his reign. We do this with songs and prayers. And we do this by offering ourselves as his servants, living for him, not just today, but each and every day.
In what ways do you experience Christ as King? How might the fact that Christ is King change the way you live each day? What aspects of the future kingdom do you long for today?
Crown him with many crowns,/ The Lamb upon his throne;/ Hark! how the heav’nly anthem drowns/ All music but its own:/ Awake, my soul, and sing/ Of him who died for thee,/ And hail him as thy matchless King/ Thro’ all eternity.
Crown him the Lord of life,/ Who triumphed o’er the grave,/ And rose victorious in the strife/ For those he came to save;/ His glories now we sing/ Who died, and rose on high,/ Who died eternal life to bring,/ And lives that death may die.
Crown him the Lord of peace,/ Whose pow’r a scepter sways/ From pole to pole, that wars may cease,/ And all be pray’r and praise:/ His reign shall know no end,/ And round his pierced feet/ Fair flow’rs of paradise extend/ Their fragrance ever sweet.
Crown him the Lord of love;/ Behold his hands and side,/ Those wounds, yet visible above,/ In beauty glorified:/ All hail, Redeemer, hail!/ For thou hast died for me:/ Thy praise and glory shall not fail/ Throughout eternity.
("Crown Him With Many Crowns," by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring, public domain.)

And from the Book of Common Prayer 2011, the Collect for The Feast of Christ the King:
Sunday Before Advent: Christ the KingALMIGHTY and eternal God, who restores all things in your Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people, so that we may abundantly produce the fruit of good works and be abundantly rewarded in your eternal kingdom; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

So as we complete this Church Year, may we take the time this week to reflect on how God worked in and through us over the past year, and may we also turn in prayer to our Lord, asking for His blessing and guidance to be with us as we embark upon a fresh year in His Kingdom.

Feasting on His Word with you,

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