The Sunday Next Before Advent has long been one of my favorite Sundays of the church year. First, the name just sounds amusingly Anglican to me. That may say more about me than about the name, but anyway… Of slightly more importance, it heralds the Advent season, which I love even more.
This Sunday is also the Feast of Christ the King each year. Yes, that is a recent and popish innovation. Pius XI in instituted it in 1925 in part to counter the idolatrous claims of rising totalitarian ideologies. Christ is King; Lenin or whatever tyrant is not. It originally was the last Sunday in October, but one post-Vatican II reform moved it to the last Sunday of the church year.
But it is good innovation for a change even if it does come from the Bishop of Rome and even Vatican II. At the end of the age, Jesus, who is already king, will return and fully reveal his kingship to the world whether people – especially politicians, tyrants, and election miscounters – like it or not. Thus it is both an appropriate and joyous end to the church year and an excellent introduction to the Advent season, which begins the following Sunday.
I think it particularly helpful to observe Christ the King Sunday and Advent this miserable year of 2020. Always, but especially now, it is both comforting and strengthening to be reminded that Jesus will return as King and make all things new and all things right in the end.
At the same time we need to brace ourselves for difficulties and tests that will come in the meantime. And Scripture indicates those will get especially difficult just before the Second Advent of Christ. You think 2020 is bad? The Apocalypse says, “Hold my beer.”
But remembering that Christ the King is coming and shall not be stopped from bringing about his good purposes strengthens us to endure and perhaps even thrive and be a blessing during these difficult times and the difficult times to come.
We at Stand Firm wish all of you an excellent Sunday Next Before Advent and a blessed Advent season.