Click here for the YouTube video.
Sunday was Christ the King and for traditions like Catholicism, Lutheranism, and other Mainlines, we celebrate a liturgical Church year which ends with Christ the King Sunday. You may notice the change of color in the church building, the stoles that the priest or pastor wears. You may not understand the significance behind it, because honestly we’re not real good at explaining that and the method behind the madness. There actually is purpose and reason for it. So instead of a regular Sunday service, we did a review of the Church year with scriptures, hymns, and reflections from this last year.
The Church year begins next Sunday with Advent. Advent is a time of hope, expectation, and preparation. The world considers this the “Christmas season” as they prepare for Christmas day. In the church we too are preparing for Christmas day, but in a different way. We are preparing with a very complicated understanding of God breaking into our world. God making his home among us whether that be the Christ-child that Mary is carrying, or whether that be the grown Messiah, or whether that be the Messiah who is to return and initiate the end times (what we call the second coming). Its a complicated time and it ends with Christmas.
It ends with Christmas, a time of joy and celebration that lasts for twelve days; its the second shortest season of the church year. It is a time of celebration. We begin with the text of the Shepherds. The Shepherds share with Mary what the angels told them. The text says that Mary treasured and pondered these things in her heart. I love that passage, because we are called to ponder God and God’s work in our world every single day not only in our minds but also in our hearts.
Epiphany (White) and the Time after Epiphany (Green)
Now Christmas ends with another text we kind of add into it, which is the Wise Men and Epiphany. The Wise Men come and they share the revelation of who Christ is.
We spend the next up to eight weeks in a time called the Time After Epiphany where we reflect on and we review the revelation of who Christ is in our world. It always begins with the Baptism of Christ with the heavens opening and either Christ or the whole community hearing God’s voice say “this is my beloved [Son] with him I am well pleased”. We were blessed to have a baptism at the same time, which it was a powerful moment to be able so directly connect Christ’s baptism with the baptism of our youngest new member.
The Time after Epiphany begins Lent. Lent is a time we usually think of as being gloomy, but the brother of the newly baptized was a perfect example of what Lent is about. He kept trying to escape under the church pew and his uncle, his dad, and his grandpa kept preventing him from escaping. We spend our entire lives trying to escape God. God continually comes after us to bring us back into God’s love, mercy, grace, to bring us each back into the fold. During Lent, we take the time to reflect on how far we have strayed and we make an effort to reconcile ourselves with God and God’s community.
The Three Days (Black)
Then, we go into the shortest of the church seasons that is easily overlooked; we call it the Three Days. We don’t wear a stole but the color associated with it is black. We do not wear a whole lot of jewelry and we are dressed as though we are in mourning, because it is Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. This is where we get the text of Holy Communion. This is where we partook in Holy Communion using the scriptures from Luke.
The text that is the gospel reading for Christ the King, if you were doing a traditional (regular) service, is Christ on the cross between the two criminals where he says “Surely, I tell you today you will be in paradise with me”. That is the text we use on Christ the King Sunday because that is an example of what a king is, one who lovingly sacrifices on behalf of his people. Its not all about power and authority, but Christ’s willingness to be mocked, beaten, and killed for the sake of his people
When we get done with the Three Days, we are joyful as we scream “He has Risen, He has Risen Indeed!” on Easter morning. This is the very foundation upon which the Church is built, for every single Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection. If you have ever heard someone refer to Lent as a forty day journey and you look at the calendar wondering ‘how are they getting forty days?’, count the days minus Sundays. Even in the gloomy (season of) Lent every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection. This was the defining moment for us as a community of faith. It lasts for seven Sundays.
Pentecost (Red) and the Time After Pentecost (Green)
Then, we get to celebrate the birthday of the Church with Pentecost. There are very few Sundays where we get to wear red, a color of celebration and of feast days; a color associated with the Holy Spirit. [In the Lutheran Church, we also wear red on Reformation Sunday.] This is when we, as a Church, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and everyone watching the disciples thought they had to be drunk. Now, Peter’s defense was “its only 9am, we can’t be drunk”. People didn’t know what was happening but we were being given a tremendous gift in the Holy Spirit in order to empower us and to drive us forward for God’s mission in love, in mercy, and in grace in this world.
The Time after Pentecost, we go back to green. It is the color of growth. It is a color of healing. That is what this season is about. It can last up to twenty three Sundays, twenty three Sundays. It is by far the longest season in the Church year, but this is when we get the parables and the teachings. This is when we get the teachings and we get to learn about what it means to be a disciple and in that is growth and healing. We also associate this time with the healing of the nations. Its a powerful time, usually we’re ready to be over with it by the time that the double-digit Sundays are done. It ends with Christ the King Sunday and then we find ourselves into a new Church year.
I know its been a long video.
It was also a long service.
Thanks for bearing with me and welcome to the new Church year. Amen.
This was adapted from the worship service on November 20, 2016.