The Church Year has come to a close. Yesterday was the Last Sunday of the Church Year. For many people, that means absolutely nothing. I must admit that when I first began in the ministry, I followed the Church Year out of obligation. It was what I was to do as a pastor in the Lutheran Church. After all, the LC-MS is a liturgical church that follows the Church Year faithfully. I felt that I must do it out of obligation. But as I have walked through the Church Year again and again I have found more and more meaning to following it. So when I find myself ending one year and beginning another, it is almost more important to me than when the calendar year changes. The years will march on and in reality, there is not much change that happens other than having to learn to write a new date.
I hope that isn't the way you feel about the Church Year - that it marches on again and again without much changing. Amazing things happen during this year. Advent - with the emphasis on the coming of the Lord. Christmas - the celebration of the birth of the Christ-child. Epiphany - focusing us Christ for the nations, true God, true man, Savior of all. Transfiguration Sunday - a powerful glimpse of the glory of Jesus as He prepares for His death. Lent - somber yet touching, upsetting yet uplifting. Easter - He is risen! Alleluia! So too shall we rise! Ascension - all but forgotten yet setting the stage for the return of Christ, as He sits down at the right hand of the Father. Pentecost - the coming of the Spirit, the birth of the Church, the fire of faith burning brightly. Trinity - a God beyond all other gods, Triune, eternal. Pentecost season - long, green, growth, like the raising of a field of corn, seed planted, sprouting, growing, greening, maturing, bearing fruit. Last Sunday of the Church Year - the harvest!
That is right, the harvest! That Sunday shows us what our lives is to be all about - leading us to that one point when the King shall come and all eyes will see Him. Never again will there be any doubt who is God. He is the immortal, invisible (then made visible) God who is the eternal Judge. We will know at that moment when all eyes see Him coming on the clouds that there is one Savior, Jesus Christ. This world that tries to convince us that all religions are the same will know at that moment that they are not all the same. As the sheep are separated from the goats, as the believers are separated from the unbelievers, there will be great rejoicing and great mourning. That is the harvest. The Lord will send His angels to the four corners of the world to gather the elect and they will brought into the barn while the chaff, the unbelievers will be cast into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. A great and wonderful harvest!
It will also be terrifying - for those who do not believe. Which leads us to the point that we must face - we are called to share the Gospel message in our lives. People are dying and going to hell! I know that we are not to say that in today's world. Family members will be upset. Friends will be shocked. I will be told that I am unloving and uncaring to say that. But it is the truth. Why would do I say it? Because if I don't, then I am not being faithful to my Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot give His glory to anyone else. I cannot say that someone who does not believe in Him will receive His righteousness because it would be a lie and would be taking the words of my Lord and twisting them just like the devil does. I will not! I can not! Why? Because I love my Lord Jesus Christ and will not give up His word for the political correctness of this age.
I do not want anyone to be damned to hell. So I continue to proclaim the message of Christ. I proclaim the message that there is only one Savior, Jesus Christ. Believe in Him and you will be saved. You, yes you! are called to share that message in your life. You are called to share it with your family this Thanksgiving weekend. You are called to live it each day in your office or classroom. There is no other name in heaven or on earth or under the earth whereby we must be saved.
The King shall come. The harvest will be complete. The Last Sunday of the Church Year has passed (and unless the King comes before this next weekend, the new Church Year will begin with Advent once again).