Jesus said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
- Acts 1:7-10
This Sunday is The Feast of Christ the King. It is a festival observance established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI for the Roman Catholic Church. It is basically a magnification of the Feast of the Ascension, as though the Ascension of our Lord needed human magnification. It marks the end of the Christian year.
Wait. We’re observing the end of our Christian year, yet we are on the wild trajectory into “the Holidays” and the end of the Roman calendar year? The completion of the Christian Year always seems eclipsed by the secular orgy of New Years Rockin’ Eve and the dropping of the King Cake Baby. After all, that’s when we culturally take stock in the year past; and chart new courses for the year ahead.
This morning let us pump the brakes on the race into “the Holidays” and turn our hearts to appreciate the walk we have just accomplished with the Holy Spirit through pandemic, dangerous political goofiness, and the death of beloveds. There was pain and loss and change and growth and Love given and great Love received. It was a hell of a year; and by God’s Grace we are better folks for it. We need to own that.
This morning let us pull off onto the scenic overlook between Ascension and Advent One and take stock in the beauty of the road ahead. It’s time to burnish the skill of listening with a yes smile on our faces and with a view to being reconciled over being right. It is the moment for reclaiming our humility and our sense of humor. It will be a good year for trafficking in truth over feelings, curiosity over certainty; and for resuming the journey with open eyes, open hearts, and open pantries and treasuries.
Now we step into Advent. May we turn our gaze from the sky, back to the witness to which the Holy Spirit is calling us -- witness at home, in church, and “to the ends of the earth. There will be all the challenges of last year. No problem. We can know that it is the Holy Spirit who calls us into service, and the same Holy Spirit who will walk every single step with us.
Musical Reflection - Christmas Lullaby - John Rutter, Cambridge Singers, City of London Sinfonia