Some people call it, “Christ the King Sunday,” and others call it, “Reign of Christ Sunday.” In fact, we call it, “Reign of Christ Sunday,” and we have, more or less, for about 30 years. Prior to that we called it by my favorite name of all the Sundays, “The Sunday Next Before Advent.” It’s a name that is both descriptive and concise. It is also, in its own special way, oddly Anglican.
This Sunday marks the end of the liturgical (or Church) year and next Sunday begins a new liturgical year. The people who plan these sort of things decided that we ought to mark at least one Sunday as a time to celebrate Christ as King of heaven and earth. And we pray for Christ to rule in our hearts, directing our wills towards the good works expected of every Christian.
In the old prayer book, where this Sunday gets the name, “the Sunday Next…” the Collect is perhaps the best of all Collects. It begins, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…” It names out loud the very thing that every Collect is supposed to do, stir us up, stirs up our wills towards good works, the very things we expect of ourselves.
A couple of years ago the Reverend Beth Aime preached a powerful and challenging sermon. Among the many things she said was a reminder that Advent (which starts next week) is an interruption. As busy as the pre-Yuletide can get the Church interrupts all that activity, reminding us to keep our focus on what really matters. It is not a stretch for any of us to know that our relationship with God matters more than sugarplums and coloured paper.
The Christian proclamation, at its core, is counter-cultural, calling us away from all that distracts us from God’s love and call to justice. It stirs us up to do good works.