Today is Christ the King Sunday.
Today is the last Sunday of the church year.
Next Sunday begins a brand new church year.
The new church year begins with Advent.
Next Sunday will be the First Sunday of Advent.
You might call Advent the great season of spiritual hygiene.
It is the season that instructs us to wake up, to pay attention, to clean up and to heal and resolve the wounds and pain in our lives.
Advent brings us back to our need for a savior.
Jesus will heal us and forgive us.
He will come to us at Christmas.
But that will be focus of the coming weeks – the four weeks of Advent.
For today we remember that it is Christ the King Sunday.
Another year has come to an end in the church calendar.
And even though the church calendar does not change from year to year, the way in which we experience the church calendar from year-to-year changes dramatically.
I am sure we all experienced the church year differently this past year than in years past.
In my ministry I have never felt this so severely as I have this past year.
The church calendar remained the same but just about everything else was different.
The church calendar, I think, may be compared to a human relationship.
For example, a husband may say to his wife, “I love you.”
And, maybe, in return the wife may say back, “Why do you always say the same thing – it’s always the same three words… can’t you think of something new to say?”
However, we know how important those three words are to a marriage, and if husband and wife have been going through serious problems in their marriage and there has been hurt feelings and hurtful words spoken, then “I love you” communicates a very powerful message.
It reflects then an attempt for both reconciliation and for forgiveness.
Those three words reflect more meaning and more weight than any other three words that could be spoken.
In this way something old and not new becomes the most powerful thing that could be said.
“I love you,” is heard and experienced in a new way.
As we go through the church calendar and hear the readings appointed for each Sunday, we experience what new thing God is doing just below the surface.
Just as I never tire of hearing those words, “I love you” from my spouse.
I never tire of hearing these sacred texts from Scripture or in entering into the spirit of the church seasons.
There is a meaning and even a power in the movement of the seasons in the church calendar.
This is why the church calendar begins with Advent.
Advent is a call to be awake and to see how God is moving in the world.
One way that I believe God is moving in the world is through his peace.
Last Sunday I spoke about the peace of God which eases our pain and our anxiety.
God’s peace grants us a way to handle all of the anxiety in our lives.
This is not always the case but sometimes when I give a sermon, I find the message really impacting me.
This past week I got up one morning and I said to myself I need more of God’s peace in my life.
I need more of God’s peace in my life.
In reflecting on this past church year and in anticipating the new church year I pray for and hope for God’s peace to be upon us.
In our Revelation reading for today we hear in verse four:
“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come.”
The writer John is sending the Lord’s peace to Jesus’ followers.
They will need it.
Life for the first Christians was very difficult.
They needed God’s peace and they also needed God’s grace.
We too need God’s grace and peace.
This is why I like to begin my sermons by saying:
“Grace and peace be with you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
In Jesus’ kingdom his grace and his peace reign.
Pilate being a very violent man could not grasp this.
But for those who would come to believe and to love Jesus they would hold tightly to Jesus’ kingdom of grace and peace.
This coming new church year I pray that we would listen to the voice of our savior, that we would work together, to the best of our ability, to further the mission and the ministry of this congregation, and that we would embrace all that the Holy Spirit is guiding and leading us to do.
God is giving us the gift of another year, may we use it wisely for our work is certainly needed, and the time to live out our faith is now.
And may God’s grace and peace go with us.