November 20, 2022
Psalm 46 (10)
We are arriving at the end of the church liturgical year. What follows is the beginning of Advent and the start of the next year.
I wish to look at the person we call Jesus and the people who call him king. In some traditions this last Sunday of the church year is called Christ the King Sunday, and in others, the Reign of Christ Sunday. In still other traditions, people will let this day will pass with little or no fanfare and will come to their gathering places and humbly continue to worship God and try and live out the message of Jesus and the imperatives that they hold out as important. There is no right or wrong in any of these observances, just people of God being faithful to the message of Jesus and recognizing our relationship to God and each other.
Being faithful, comes to mind as we have a nearly 2000-year history of this faithfulness. People who have lived and died, faithfully trusting in the promises of God and tried to live in the love of God. We have not always been so good with that, but we try in our own ways to live that out.
In my previous musings on this forum,** I spoke of the many feast days of the final month of the church calendar. I want to springboard off of the observance of All Saints celebrations and couple that to the faithfulness of the saints; both then and now, who seek God through Jesus.
We can look back to the Middle Ages and see the structures of the great cathedral building eras. What comes to mind quickly is the Gothic style and flying buttresses of the twelfth century European countries.Th ese are structures that in most cases, took at least one hundred years to construct and often as much as four or five hundred years.This suggests that the people who placed the first stones of the foundation would never see the final spires that would stand upon them. They would never hear the word of God spoken there, or see or meet the people who would one day worship in those grand spaces. Often changing styles of architecture and design show up in the differences of windows and towers that spanned those hundreds of years of building.
Today we struggle in our thinking of the time required to build these edifices. With only architectural drawings, these first people labored in the notion of what the completed edifice might look like. They could only imagine. Even today, with our modern tools and technologies, the Basilica of the Sagrada Família (Holy Family) in Barcelona Spain, lays in wait of completion. The projected date of completion will span over 140 years of construction. Land acquisition will be necessary for the building of the final portico.
I am not trying to revel in the construction of buildings as a mark of faithfulness; but the dedication and tenacity of people who give all or parts of their lives in the faithful continuation of the church both in structure and message, those before us and those still among us who choose to live in the Beatitudes, interpret the messages of the parables, and the words of Jesus to love God and each other. We have sisters and brothers in our black American community who have sought to live with optimism and live faithfully through four hundred years of oppression where even the glaciers often appear to have moved more quickly. In the end we celebrate those people who have lived faithfully in and call out and identify Christ as our King.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for the saints around us, both then and now, who have lived in the teachings of your Son and our Lord, Jesus. Amen.
** My previous thoughts on All Saints can be found at https://tvprays.org/a-look-at-all-saints/