Sunday series: 11/20/2011 (#165)
Where: Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 11am
“1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:1-5 KJV)
- Christ the King Sunday [or Feast of Christ the King]
- New Earth, New Heaven, New Jerusalem — all things new
- So what’s Christ the King Sunday anyway?
“The Feast of Christ the King (in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, properly the Solemnity of Christ the King) is a relatively recent addition to the western liturgical calendar, having been instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. In 1970 its observance was moved to the last Sunday of Ordinary Time and adopted by Anglicans, Lutherans, and many other Protestants along with the new Revised Common Lectionary, as well as by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Origin and history in the Catholic Church
Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas, in response to growing nationalism and secularism and in the context of the unresolved Roman Question. The title of the feast was ‘D. N. Jesu Christi Regis’ (Our Lord Jesus Christ the King), and the date was ‘the last Sunday of the month of October – the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints’. In Pope John XXIII’s 1960 revision of the Calendar, the date and title remained the same and, in the new simpler ranking of feasts, it was classified as a feast of the first class.
In his 1969 motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis, Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new title: ‘D. N. Iesu Christi universorum Regis’ (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe). He also gave it a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year, before a new year begins with the First Sunday in Advent, the earliest date for which is 27 November. Through this choice of date ‘the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer’. He assigned to it the highest rank, that of ‘Solemnity’.
As happens with all Sundays whose liturgies are replaced by those of important feasts, the prayers of the Sunday on which the celebration of Christ the King falls are used on the ferias (weekdays) of the following week. The Sunday liturgy is thus not totally omitted.
In 2013, this feast day falls on November 24. The liturgical vestments for the day are colored white and/or gold, in keeping with other joyous feasts honoring Christ.
Observance in other churches
Those churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday (titled Reign of Christ Sunday by some) as the last Sunday of the liturgical year. These churches include most major Anglican and mainline Protestant groups, including the Church of England and the Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican Church in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other Lutheran bodies, the United Methodist Church and other Methodist bodies, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the Moravian Church. In Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden, this day is referred to as the Sunday of Doom, previously centred about the final judgement, though from the Lectionary of 1983 and forwards, the topic of the day is the Return of Christ.”