November is an interesting time in the church year.
On the first Sunday of the month we remember those saints who have gone before us. We also remember that they are always celebrating the resurrection of Jesus as we do when we share communion. In some traditions, the pastor says or sings the following words as a preface to communion, “And so with the choirs of angels, the church on earth and the host in heaven.” That host in heaven includes our loved ones. They join with us in giving thanks for all that God has done for us and for this world.
The readings in the middle of November often turn our thoughts to the time when the things of this world will pass away. This year we are reminded we do not know the hour of the Lord’s triumph as we read the stories of the wise and foolish bridesmaids found in Matthew 25:1-13 (November 12) and the story of the slaves entrusted with talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 (November 19). These stories, and others like them, can seem like abrupt and sudden paradigm shifts, but they signal that which is to come.
At the end of November, the vision becomes reality in Matthew 25:31-46. We read stories of how the Son of Man will come and sit on his throne in glory. The sheep are separated from the goats and we proclaim that God’s rule has always been, is now, and will be forever.
And yet, we also know that Advent is coming: a time when we wait with hopeful expectation of the child.
While we proclaim God as ruler of all creation in all past ages, we also begin to ask this same God to come down anew and “stir us up.” We proclaim a God who has always been in charge, but who also has yet to come to us. God’s promises to us spring afresh, even in what will be the darkest time of the year. God renews us and comes to us exactly when the need is greatest.