New Church Year’s Eve

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.” – Matthew 25:31

It’s new year’s eve in the church. You’re having a big party tonight complete with countdown and ball drop, right? Yeah, I’m not either. But I do like the idea of taking notice when the church year turns over once again. 

This happens every year, on the last Sunday before Advent. The liturgical year is a cycle of stories, starting with waiting for the birth of Jesus Christ, moving through his death and resurrection, celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and then spending many weeks in “ordinary time,” where we think about how to live out our faith in our everyday lives.

And then, the year ends once again, with this Sunday that we call either “Christ the King Sunday” or the more inclusive “Reign of Christ Sunday.” In American contexts, given the timing of a national holiday, this Sunday is often overshadowed by “Thanksgiving Sunday” or “That Sunday after Thanksgiving When No One Comes to Church Sunday.” This is not one of our big church holiday observances.

But maybe it should be. The message of Reign of Christ Sunday is that, once again, we have cycled through the story of the Christian year. And once again, on this last day, we proclaim that only Christ reigns supreme. No nation, leader, ideology, or thing can ever take the place of the only one that we should worship. And that is very good news.

In days when the world is filled with violence and uncertainty, when injustice seems victorious, and when hope seems dim, the church needs this day to say, “Not for long . . . and not inside of our doors.” Proclaiming that Christ alone is Lord of us, and of the world, is a radical act. Standing on the brink of another year, looking towards the birth of one who would change everything, now is the time to claim that promise once again.

So, happy new year, church. This is not the end. This is the beginning of a hope that will always rise again.


God, no matter what distractions compete for my heart, you alone will I serve, and you alone will I worship. This year and always. Amen. 

dd-emilyheath.jpgAbout the Author
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the author of Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity.