This Sunday we will be celebrating the last Sunday of the Season of Pentecost which is called Reign of Christ Sunday (formerly “Christ the King Sunday”). It is also the New Years Eve of the church year—the new year begins next Sunday, December 2nd, with the First Sunday of Advent.
The Season of Pentecost began on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the directionless followers of Christ and drove them to create a whole new way of living together and being the body of Christ in the world. They set out to discover what living by his teachings and sacred way looks like in a culture that is dominated by forces of selfishness, violence and greed. They pooled their resources and owned all things in common, making sure that everyone had a sufficiency to meet their needs. They loved and served the most vulnerable and oppressed in society as Christ had and over time people like St. Francis and John Woolman extended that compassionate care to the earth and all its creatures.
Now, at the end of the season, at this time in history when those Christ cared for most and the earth are under assault and the human race is an endangered species, we take this Sunday to envision what it would look like today if the reign of Christ or the realm of God were established on the earth right now, if all our domestic, international and economic policies were ruled by Christ-like love.
We will read the ancient vision of Isaiah of the day when “they will not hurt or destroy on all God’s holy mountain.” (Chapter 11) We will also hear the teaching of Jesus at the end of Matthew where he says that whenever we offer lovingkindness to the least of people we are offering it directly to him. (25:31-40) We will sing three beautiful, hopeful and joyful hymns, “O Day of God Draw Nigh,” “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “Now Is the Time Approaching.”
The choir will sing three beloved African pieces: “Haleluya! Pelo Tsa Rona” from the same South African collection that includes “Siyahamba,” “Thuma Mina” and “Oh Freedom;” the soulful, life affirming “Thula Klizeo” that says, “Be still, my heart. Even here I am at home,” written in New York City at a time of lonely grief by Joseph Shabalala, the leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo; and “Uthando Lwakhe” that sings, “You are beautiful, Almighty God. We see you by your love.”
Below you can hear recordings of all three African songs. Enjoy!