The calendar of the Church year is different from the secular calendar. This coming Sunday, November 24, is the last Sunday of the year, and next week, December 1, is the first Sunday of a new year. More than that, we celebrate Jesus the Lord of all time and the King of a whole new creation this Sunday. Starting next week -- the First Sunday of Advent -- we look forward to his coming again to claim the whole world for himself.
What does that mean for us? If we say we are disciples of Jesus and are part of his Kingdom, then, at this time of the year we recognize his Lordship over our lives. The implication is that all that we are and all that we have are ultimately under his rule and authority.
How does the way we live our lives demonstrate that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God? We Americans don't like to think that we are under someone else's rule. And yet that's what it means to be a Christian. To be claimed by Christ in baptism means that we belong to him.
In this stewardship season, it means we take stock of how we use all we have, all the time, and make an assessment as to how our use of the resources we have at our disposal reflects our identity as subjects of our King. On the first Sunday of Advent, December 1, all the financial pledges received for the coming year will be brought to and blessed at the altar. We realize in that action that we make a sacrificial gift of our money, and also of our time and talent to the work of God's Kingdom, as we remember that there will be a day when we all must make an account for how we have used the resources placed in our care. As we consider how much of our resources we will give to God's work at St. John's in the coming year, may we offer you this prayer, for the right use of God's gifts provided in the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.