Today is Christ the King Sunday. If you are familiar with the Liturgical calendar, the Church year, then you will know what this means. If not, let me give this brief and inadequate explanation. It is the feast day set aside to mark the reign of Christ as King, now and forever. Christ the King Sunday is the very last Sunday of the Church year and to some degree marks the last chapter in the journey and life of Christ, in that it sums up the belief that Christ, post- resurrection, reigns as King now and forever, amen. This Sunday marks the last (and ongoing) stage in Christ life: Kingship.
After Christ the King Sunday, comes Advent, and the whole cycle starts over again.
What is unique about the beginning of the church year in contrast with the beginning of the calendar year, is that you know going in how the story ends. You have confidence, to some degree, about what you are getting yourself into. You know how it all ends even as you are about to start the story over again- back at the beginning, in Advent. Waiting.
Quite often Christ the King Sunday falls on the Sunday before Thanksgiving with Advent beginning the Sunday following Thanksgiving. While efficient, this doesn't leave much room for reflection on the two -the end and the beginning - as the week in-between is filled with turkeys and pies and travel and odd schedules. But every few years we get a gift. We get a week between the two that does not include a federal holiday. We get a week between the end and the beginning. And that is this week.
I posted the quote above because I feel like that all too often we ( and I mean me and my motley crew) rush straight from Thanksgiving to Advent without taking a breath, without really thinking about how we really want to begin. And we rush into Advent and Christmas and parties and gifts and all of it with the intention of giving away more than we take. Of finding places and pockets of need that we can help fill with both tangible and intangible gifts. But all too often our good intentions get pushed to the side along with the laundry, the overdue library books, and that old carton of yogurt in the back of the fridge because we are pre-occupied with or too tired from all the making merry to remember.
So here is the challenge I feel this year, and one I will throw out to you. We have a week. A week before Advent is here, before my boys will start opening those little doors on the Chocolate Advent Calendars, a week before we will light our first candle on our Advent wreath. A week before we pray our prayers and begin our waiting. A week when we can instead, really focus on giving, on looking for those pockets and those places of need where we can share a smile, a meal, an hour, a gift, a ride, a dollar or two or twenty. There are four weeks of Advent (not counting Christmas Eve) and there are four of us in our little family. What if each of us took a week to find a way to give the thing we love most -our most prized possession, resource or talent - away? Could we do it? Could we help each other? Will we remember and stay true to our goal, or will we get busy and preoccupied and give-up?
We have a week to think on it, pray on it, toss ideas in the air, retract those ideas, throw out different ones, to figure out where our gifts can help the most, think about what would hurt the most to give, to talk each other out of it, and back into it again. And to come up with a general plan that is open to improvement but fleshed out enough to not be easily dismissed later - when we are tired and looking for the escape clause, when we feel embarrassed or selfish or just lazy. Because you know we will. We are only human after all.