If it is late fall, and you hang out with me long enough, you are bound to hear me wax eloquent on why I think the Church gets Christmas wrong. It is the one time that the story of Jesus still plays a practical role in secular society and instead of embracing the ever expanding Christmas season, we bitch and moan that “it isn’t Christmas yet” or “whatever happened to Advent” or “Christmas is 12 days, starting on December 25th.” It is no wonder we’re drifting into irrelevance, even when we still have a voice, we sound like whiny children. My suggestion is to forego four weeks in the interminable Season after Pentecost and start Advent on All Saints’ Day. Christmas then can begin on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (in America) and run through The Epiphany. Throughout its history, the Church has used secular calendars to develop its seasons, and I can’t for the life of me understand why we don’t do that here.
As usual, I’ve flung myself down a rabbit hole, but my point is that while Advent is important, it is only because it points us to the new beginning that is Christmas. And so, as we come to the end of the Pentecost Death March, we find ourselves preparing for a new beginning by embracing the end. The Sunday before Christ the King is always an eschatological day. The lessons point us toward the end, so that we can be prepared for what new thing is to come.
I’m not 100% sure what the Imaginary Foundation is or does, but I think this bit of artwork is spot on as a representation of what the transition from Pentecost to Advent is supposed to be about. As we hear the lesson from Luke about the destruction of the Temple, as we sing Jack Noble White’s setting of Canticle 9
We look to the future culmination of all things in hope for resurrection, new life, and joy.
I used to think that these final lessons in Pentecost were a buzz kill, but now I’m convinced that they help put the story into context. These apocalyptic texts show us the end so that we can understand the beginning. I’m really starting to like that. I just wish we had them a month earlier.