On Sunday, November 26th we will celebrate Christ the King Sunday. Christ the King Sunday is the newest day in the liturgical year. Christ the King Sunday was added in 1925 by the Roman Catholic Church and later adopted by Protestants, including United Methodists. In describing the origins for Christ the King Sunday, Taylor Burton-Edwards, a contributor to United Methodist Discipleship Resources writes “Christ theKing Sunday was added in response to increasing secularization movements worldwide, but in particular to the plight of Mexican Christians who were being told by their government that only their government was due ultimate allegiance. The Church in Mexico remained faithful, holding public parades throughout the land (with significant governmental pushback!) proclaiming “Cristo Rey!,” “Christ is King!” Pope Pius XI made that declaration the basis of a Holy Day to be observed throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church, “Christ, The King of the Universe.” After Vatican II, Rome moved the observance of this day from October to the final Sunday of the Christian Year, and many Protestants who adopted the Revised Common Lectionary and its calendar have followed suit.”
In 1940, the Roman Catholic Church even constructed a large statue of Jesus and the cross on the Mexico-U.S. border in New Mexico. This statue stands at the top of Mount Cristo Rey (Mount of Christ the King), and is a reminder, by its very location, both of the origins of the feast and its significance for all people in every nation.
Today Christ the King Sunday serves as both the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian Year. As Roger C. Dowdy, another contributor to United Methodist Discipleship Resources, writes “Christ the King Sunday is not so much a climax in itself, however, as it is a transitional Sunday leading directly to Advent, the Christmas cycle, and the new Christian Year. People are already thinking about Christmas, and the observance of Christ the King can help them prepare by stressing the continuity between the celebration of kingship, or sovereignty, of Christ and the expectation of Christ’s coming again in sovereign glory which opens the Advent Season. We have more than a baby Jesus at Christmas; we have a sovereign Christ. ‘Joy to the world! The Lord is come: Let earth receive her King.’”
The liturgical color for Christ the King Sunday is white. The Sunday following Christ the King Sunday marks the beginning of Advent which is also the first Sunday of a new Christian year.
On this Christ the King Sunday, November 26th, let us worship God together and add our voices alongside those persecuted for their faith in all times and places, and with them proclaim that “Christ is King!”