Not a moment too soon, this confounding year comes to a conclusion this week.
I know, I know: The calendar says we still have a few weeks to go before turning the page into 2021. But at least in liturgical circles, everything wraps up THIS week – as we celebrate the feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Don’t know about you, but I’m ready – readier than I’ve ever been for a new year to begin.
An ironic sentiment, I suppose: the year I’m eager to exit is dubbed “2020” after all. I’d half-expect a year tagged like that to offer a little clarity: perfect vision, as it were…all my sight lines unimpeded and completely in focus.
Instead, nothing I see seems to make much sense these days. The prospect of a “Thanksgiving Bubble” is just the latest example in a long list of pandemic-related disruptions I’ve begrudgingly learned to navigate in recent months. Turns out, I really liked the way things were in my pre-COVID corner of the world (although I surely wasn’t as grateful as I ought to have been for all the many blessings in my life).
And now, into my state of confusion steps Christ the King.
To be fair, Christ the King seeks the honor of my attention every year (as we look ahead to Advent and the start of brand new liturgical cycle). Most other years, though, Christ faces significant headwinds in that quest. Most other years, I have tended to feel comfortable and in control – both secure, and surrounded by many other similarly situated sheep in my portion of the flock.
What a shock, to discover again and again throughout 2020 that this way of comfort is not necessarily a permanent condition. And that much of our personal “power” and “control” are in fact an illusion.
Suffice it to say, Christ the King has my attention this time around.
Part of my heart still wants to offer him a few helpful suggestions about how to straighten things out in the waning weeks of 2020. But another part of my heart is listening a bit more intently, I notice. One important thing I’ve learned along the way is that the flock (of which I am a part) is vast – much larger than I was ever able to appreciate before.
It is vast, and yet the promise is the same for every individual over whom Christ, our King, reigns:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
This promise is quite a comfort, in the final analysis. It’s much bigger than a calendar year gone haywire. So perhaps we would all do well to spend a moment lifting a prayer of thanksgiving this week – and then resolve to celebrate the New Year in style: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.