The Feast of Christ the King marks the end of the church’s liturgical year. It anticipates the time when Christ will be all in all. It reminds us to place Christ at the center of our lives and to live and love in a way in which it shows.
We begin the new liturgical year by celebrating the First Sunday of Advent. There is beauty in the cyclic nature of our liturgical year. Wrapped in the power of the Paschal Mystery (Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension) we celebrate once again the retelling of our Christian story. It is a retelling that is meant to connect our lives more fully to Christ’s. We are not the same person we were last year at this time. Much has happened in our lives: there have been moments of sorrow and joy; new people have come into our lives, and perhaps some have left; something new has touched us in the scriptures; God has been revealed in nature in a new way. Large or small, things are different in our lives. We keep this in mind as we enter into a new liturgical year, and hear the scriptures with new ears and hearts.
The season of Advent (a word which means “coming”) invites us to look at the ways our lives were open to the presence of Christ in the past year, and reflect upon those areas where we still need to say, “Come Lord Jesus.” Advent is also about learning to wait. It is a season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious. It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have possibly, until now, ignored. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, only that whatever it is, something challenging, or something uplifting, is a sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life. Clearly then, learning to wait is an essential dimension of spiritual development. It is waiting that attunes us to the invisible in a highly material world. Advent relieves us of our commitment to the fast-paced world. It slows us down. It makes us think. It makes us look beyond today to the “great tomorrow” of life. It is while waiting for the coming of the reign of God, Advent after Advent, that we come to realize that its coming depends on us. What we do will either hasten or slow, sharpen or dim our own commitment to do our part to bring it about.
A number of items draw us into this new season. Our liturgical color changes to blue-purple. Our Advent wreath reminds us we are waiting for Christ, our light in the darkness. May each Advent of our lives be a powerful, prayerful one.