The end of the church year is very near. In Old Testament times the Israelites had two calendars – a civil calendar and a religious calendar. Those calendars started at different times of the year.
We also have two calendars (or three if we count our fiscal calendar beginning on July 1st). We recognize January 1st as the beginning of the year for most purposes in our daily lives. Our church has a different calendar. The church calendar begins with the first Sunday in Advent, on December 2nd this year, and ends with the four Sundays of End Time, which we will celebrate in November.
The phrase “end times” brings to mind Christ’s second coming and the last judgment, but it really includes much more. It includes all the time since Christ’s ascension into heaven. Ever since his ascension, Christ has been preparing the world for his return. The four Sundays of End Time each have their own focus.
- Reformation – Christ preserves the truth of his Gospel throughout the end times so that sinners continue to hear the promise of forgiveness and salvation. The Reformation at Luther’s time is the primary example of this fact.
- Last Judgment – Christ will return once more at the end of the end times to judge the earth. Those who believe in him as their Savior will enter into eternal glory and those who do not will suffer in hell.
- Saints Triumphant – Saints Triumphant does not only refer to the time after the last judgment but all those who have died in the faith are Saints Triumphant.
- Christ the King – Certainly Christ is our King, but he also rules the whole world for our good and to prepare the world for the day when he will return. When he returns it will be obvious to all that he is the King of Kings.
After these four Sundays the church year begins again with Advent. In Advent we remember the events that led up to the first time Jesus came into this world. As the church year progresses we focus on the events of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension – the work of our salvation.
Celebrate with me. The end is near!