November 25, 2018

2 Samuel 23:1-7 Psalm 132:1-12 Revelation 1:4b-8 John 18:33-37 “Thy Kingdom Come on Earth” Today is the last day of the year – not in the Gregorian calendar that we follow along with the most of the world, running from January 1st through to December 31st. But today is the last day in the Church Year – the special calendar that many Christian Churches began to follow as part of the liturgical reform of the last 30-40 years. The Church Year begins with Advent, four Sundays leading up to our celebration of the Birth of Jesus at Christmas. Then there is a short Christmas season, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and ordinary time which comes in between. The Church Year is the reason that we mark different Sundays and seasons with symbolic colours like purple for Lent, red for Pentecost, and white for Easter and Christmas. And the Church Year provides the framework for the lectionary cycle of Scripture readings that we read and reflect on Sunday-by-Sunday. The special Sunday that we mark today is called “Reign of Christ” or “Christ the King” Sunday, and it is the culmination of the Church Year before we begin a New Year with the Season of Advent next week. It was Pope Pius XI who, in 1925, declared a special feast day for Christ the King. It was a time in history when respect for the church was waning and state control over the church was increasing in many countries. Stalin and Mussolini were … Read more »

April 7, 2013

Revelation 1:4-8 John 20:19-31 “Not the End of the Story” Welcome to the second Sunday in the Season of Easter. I don’t know about you, but it kind of feels like a low Sunday to me. The church isn’t as full as it was last week, and the energy level and anticipation isn’t quite as high either. Someone said that there was something pretty special about the experience of coming in to church last Sunday. Everyone was so joyful and upbeat. It was definitely a day of celebration as we sang the songs of Easter and proclaimed the resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord. But when the Easter weekend came to an end, many of us went back to the grind of work on Monday or Tuesday. We came face to face with exam time looming, or a house in need of a good Spring cleaning, or the challenges of health issues, or a strained relationship in need of repair, or the stress of tax time and worry about how to make the payments, or just the news from the world this week that some young Canadian men have become terrorists, that there was a shooting in a Gatineau daycare, that all is not yet right in the world. Lauren Winner, reflecting on the day of her baptism as a young adult, remembers a typo in the Communion prayer response: It said, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ has come again.” (Instead of Christ WILL come again. It said … Read more »

November 25, 2012

2 Samuel 23:1-7 Revelation 1:4b-8 John 18:33-37 Over tea and homemade pie yesterday afternoon, a church member asked me about the church’s celebration of Christmas. He remembered that when he was growing up in Scotland there were no special church services for Christmas, and gifts were exchanged at New Year’s rather than on December 25th. Indeed, Christmas didn’t become a national holiday in Scotland until fairly recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t know when Canadian Presbyterians or other Protestants began celebrating Christmas, nor did I know when Canada made Christmas Day into a statutory holiday. I could point out that all the Churches have gone through some significant liturgical reform over the last 30 or 40 years. One significant reform is the celebration of the Church Year in most of the mainline Churches. The Church Year includes not only special Christmas services, but also special seasons like Advent to anticipate and prepare for our Christmas celebrations. Growing up in a Canadian Presbyterian Church in the 1980’s, we were already lighting Advent Candles on the Sundays leading up to Christmas, and I think it was a fairly long standing tradition to gather for worship on Christmas Eve for a service of lessons and carols that was one of the highlights of my early religious experience. Reading a little more about Christmas celebrations online yesterday, I discovered that the earliest celebrations of Christmas on December 25th took place as early as the fourth century. And though some of the Protestant Churches went through periods … Read more »