Bayern, USA, Deutschland

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ewigkeitssonntag (Eternity Sunday)

I thoroughly enjoy the last Sundays in the Church year, and I am glad that the new lectionary the LCMS is using (with the Proper system) returns us to the traditional German Lutheran practice of holding the last few series of pericope readings in such high regard that they are read every year.

I read an article why researching for this past Sunday's Eternity Sunday sermon that recently all the Germany states (except Saxony) have repealed the day of repentance and prayer as an official state holiday. Pious Christians who wise to celebrate this repentance service (usually observed on the Wednesday of the last week of the Church year, which happens to be Thanksgiving Eve's day for Americans) must take a personal holiday from work.

In some ways, Eternity Sunday is similar to All Saints' Day, but with a more last day theme to it. I recall a professor at the seminary who encouraged us to once a year preach a really in depth sermon full of meaty theology (preferably on justification) and another on the glories of eternal life in heaven. I have followed his advice for the past decade.

Some churches call the last Sunday in the Church year ,,Christ the King Sunday". This follows the example of the Roman Catholic Church which transitioned to this theme in the 1960s or '70s. The traditional, one year lectionary uses Matthew 25.1's parable of the maidens as the text for Eternity Sunday, but the revised common lectionary as revised by the LCMS uses Matthew 25.31's parable of the final judgment. Matthew 25 is just packed full of great parables and a true joy to preach upon every three years.

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