Sunday of the Fulfillment

Sunday (Nov. 20) is the last Sunday of the church year. Unlike the societal calendar the church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent which in 2016 is Sunday November 27. We end the current church year with the focus on the completing of Jesus’ work among us. We see the work begun in Jesus throughout the New Testament and continued (often in fits and starts) by God’s people across the centuries since. There has been progress made but we are also painfully aware of the great gaps between what Jesus taught and what humanity has been able to accomplish in making it “on earth as it is in heaven…”

In the Anglican world this Sunday is often known as Christ the King – using the metaphor of Jesus as the king indicating that God’s will would be done on earth… Yet Nancy and I much prefer the Lutheran name – Sunday of the Fulfillment – the Sunday on which we look forward to the time when all will be as God created it to be.

The difference is significant. With Christ the King we seem to be handing the work back to Jesus saying “Here YOU do it!” The Sunday of the Fulfillment seems more like the Gospel in that Jesus’ followers are to finish the work that Jesus began.

The world has been rocked by the recent election. Our children as young adults give us a window into the shock and horror many of them feel at the results. The unexpected support for actions, policies and attitudes that seem so very much at odds with the Gospel we proclaim, has left many wondering. And one of the wonderments that has been voiced is “what do we do now?”

On this Sunday of the Fulfillment we are given an answer. If we want the world to be like God created it be, we need to get back to work. Our work is to proclaim and live out the Gospel values we find in Jesus life, ministry and teaching. If we want care for the vulnerable we need to find ways to care for and/or help support the very people scripture tells us are close to God’s heart: The sick, the poor, the marginalized, the widowed and orphans, and the alien in the land

We have been given the message – “Get back to work. It is not over and our work in the world is not done.” As individuals and as a community of faith our work continues. We can see clearly how important our work is if we take seriously what we pray in the prayer Jesus taught – that God’s will be followed by God’s values being lived out as our reality on earth.

This then leads to a question of discernment. Led by Jesus teachings, as we understand them, we might ask, “Of all the things that could be done, what task or piece of a task of care for God’s creatures and God’s creation, are we as individuals – and we as a parish uniquely – able or called to work on? What can we do to make this small corner of creation more as God created it to be? How can each of us – you and I, and our faith communities – be agents of change for God’s stated agenda – “on earth as it is heaven”?


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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