The month of November in the church year calls to mind deeply meaningful aspects of what it means to be people of faith.
On All Saints Day, we remember in community the names of those who have died in the past year. I love the tradition of lighting a candle or tolling a bell as the name of each person who has died is read aloud during worship. There is something special about marking the life and death of a fellow human being with a tangible action. Whether or not we know each of the names we hear, rituals such as this remind us that each person is seen, heard and held in God’s loving embrace.
All Saints Day is a public reminder that each human being matters to God, who creates us with joy and forms us into community. Even in the midst of death, God guides us and promises new life for all believers.
Near the end of the month, Reign of Christ Sunday (also known as Christ the King Sunday) invites us into a way of life and understanding of power that differs radically from the world around us. I struggle with the idea of Jesus as a patriarchal ruler, but I love how he models a life-giving, inclusive reign that is for all people and all of creation.
As the calendar year draws to a close, the church year begins anew with the promise that Jesus never stops showing up in our world, bringing fresh hope, life and possibility.
On this Sunday, we are reminded that the power of Jesus Christ is found in compassion rather than competition, that strength is found in mercy instead of judgment, that the ways of God lead us into justice and make space for everyone at the table of forgiveness and new life.
This year, the last Sunday in November is also the first Sunday of Advent. As the calendar year draws to a close, the church year begins anew with the promise that Jesus never stops showing up in our world, bringing fresh hope, life and possibility. Whatever our days bring, we can echo the psalmist in proclaiming: “To you, O Lord, [we] lift up [our] soul[s]” (Psalm 25:1). God’s steadfast love companions us forever.
Especially this month, the rhythm of the church year mirrors that of our lives. November is a microcosm of the good and hard and ordinary days that we each travel through. During all the seasons of our lives, the psalmist reminds us that God, “who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them … keeps faith forever” (Psalm 144:6).
Through the changes, challenges and celebrations of November and beyond, God’s deep, constant love and the global, timeless community of faith will support and sustain us.