If you happen to hear the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” humming through the halls of HBUMC this week it is not because our calendars are running a month ahead of time. No, your pastors did not decide to skip the month of December and jump right into 2019…although it will be an exciting year. Yes, as the church we are still going to celebrate Advent and Christmas this year! However, for us as the church New Year’s Day is just a few days away. The liturgical calendar year is coming to an end and a new year is about to begin.
If this is confusing, please let me explain. While the traditional calendar year is all well and good, you know the one that begins with January 1st and ends December 31st, there is another calendar that is our guide for the church. The Liturgical Calendar that guides the life of the church is the one whose end is upon us and has a new beginning fast approaching. This past Sunday we marked the end of the liturgical year with Christ the King Sunday. I think that is a very appropriate way to mark the end of the church year. We have read and heard about Jesus as we journey through scripture throughout the year and we mark its end by proclaiming Christ is Lord and King of all. With all we have witnessed in the life of Jesus Christ, after all we have learned about the love and grace of God that Christ displays to us, we can boldly proclaim that Christ is indeed King.
What a way to bring the year to an end! Celebrating Christ as King through worship is an important way to mark the end of the year. As this year ends with celebration we are preparing for a new beginning. This coming Sunday, December 2nd, we mark the beginning of the new liturgical year. This will be the first of four Sundays in Advent. A very basic definition of the word “advent” is the arrival of an important person or event. Of course as Christians we know that important person and event is Christ and the celebration of his birth at Christmas. All of this preparation is so that as we journey through the liturgical year, from Advent to Christmas, Lent and Easter, and all of the ordinary time in-between, we can arrive again at the end of the year and worship Christ as King.
Since this year is coming to an end, and New Year’s Day will be here this coming Sunday, I have a challenge for you! Just as it is tradition to make a New Year’s Resolution when the calendar year changes, perhaps as Christians we ought to make a “Liturgical New Year’s Resolution!” Now this should not be confused with the secular version. I am not suggesting you resolve to do something like join a gym or save more money.
Rather I am suggesting you resolve to do something that directly enhances your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This may be something as simple as reading scripture daily or establishing a more frequent rhythm of prayer. Perhaps this could be a commitment to attend worship every Sunday in Advent so that you are better prepared for the celebration on Christmas day. That could lead to communal worship being more of a part of your life throughout the year to come. Whatever it may be, I hope that you prayerfully consider a Liturgical New Year’s Resolution and from it your relationship with Jesus Christ is strengthened and God is glorified.
I pray that this past year has been fruitful in your life of discipleship and that in the year to come the love and grace of God as shown through Jesus Christ is clear and evident. There are many opportunities for worship and fellowship at HBUMC throughout Advent and Christmas. You can find information about all of these opportunities as well as an online version of our Advent devotional at hbumc.org/advent. May God bless you with peace, hope, joy, and love in this New Year!
With love and peace,