CHRIST THE KING Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year just 4 Sundays before Christmas. Hymn 855, Crown Him with Many Crowns, "Awake my soul and sing of him who died for thee and hail him as thy match-less king through all eternity." Now we turn back and the next Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent, four Sundays before Christmas, and God retells his story, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost. The Gospel of Matthew commissions us to go and tell God's story and so it seems that the church fathers created this worship guide to make sure God's story is heard every year.
So how does one prepare to listen to God's story? It is a powerful story that pulls us in, and we become part of the story. One of the texts for Christ the King Sunday is Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul's prayer for the congregation in Ephesus. For me, it's a great bridge for entering into the Advent season.
We pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know him, so that with the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. AMEN
In my life's journey God's story has never changed, but the way we uplift and support the story with traditions, has changed. For example, worship times. Christmas Eve was always dedicated to the Sunday School, now it tends be the main worship setting replacing Christmas Day worship. For me it used to be quieter, now it's very noisy. It seems like Christmas is more about Black Fridays and sales. The world is also constantly changing, confronted with new conflicts and challenges. This year, the virus has destroyed our way of life. A new word has been added to our vocabulary, pandemic. Our politics has divided us and attacked our democracy, creating fear and distrust. Anger and fear separate us and attacks our hope.
But the advent season is here! I am glad because we can still light a candle. If you have a hymnal and turn to page 18 you can find all the texts. You will notice that a majority of the OT texts are from Isaiah which begins with a harsh word from God, about our sin, admonishing us to learn to do good, and seek justice. Perhaps we should begin Advent by acknowledging our sin. The text listed in 2:1-5 for me says God is in charge, war is not the answer, and swords should be beat into plow shares. The second week, Isaiah 11:1-10, emphasizes God's kingdom as a peaceful kingdom. The third Sunday's text is a message of hope, 35:1-10, "he will come and save you." The last Sunday before Christmas, Isaiah 7:10-16, centers our hope, telling us that a young woman shall bear a child, "and shall name him Immanuel." This was God's sign for the future that shapes his kingdom. Announced by the angels to the shepherds, a baby has been born whose name is Immanuel which means, "God is with us." God's gift of love to us and the world.
I feel the Advent season is not about our traditions, or our families. While they are important and have meaning, this time is all about reminding us Christmas is all about God and his love for us. It is his love that grabs us, creates hope and spills over into the lives of others. Yes, we are also sinners, but God never deserts us. I see it in the lives of those who care for us at Riverview, in those who risk their lives caring for us when we are ill...and the list goes on I see God's footprints when I wear my mask as a gift to those around me. Did you know that Joy to the World is listed as an Advent hymn? My prayer is just that, that joy will enter each of us. Let the earth receive her King.
To the Writers
of this devotional: