Friday, December 4th Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

With these words, Jesus launched the mission of the church. To go. To make disciples. To baptize. To teach. All with the promise of his living presence among them.

In John’s gospel, Jesus meets his disciples in an upper room on Easter evening and sends them out with a call to speak the forgiveness of sins through the power of the Spirit. He sends them out to love one another and the world around them. He sends them out to be the church.

In the book of Acts, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Then, in the 2nd chapter, the Spirit fills those who gather around Peter’s preaching and the lamp of the light of the church is lit.

We continue this mission and ministry today. In the church calendar, the season of teaching and disciple-shaping, the season of Pentecost, stretches out across the remainder of the summer and on to the end of the year. It can be as long as 26 Sundays. The color is green, the theme is the growth of the church. Toward the end of Pentecost there are the celebration days of Reformation Sunday, All Saints Day and Christ the King Sunday.

Throughout the year, the church has the option of remembering various saints and leaders of the church along the way, our heroes and models of faithfulness. Many Sundays have more than one commemoration and worship leaders have a choice.

The Bible readings for each Sunday – in those congregations that use the common lectionary (list of readings) come in a three year cycle, years A, B and C. Each Sunday, a reading from a gospel is assigned with an Old Testament reading that picks up the same theme. The second lesson or Epistle reading is taken from a New Testament book, often several readings in a row from a particular book. In year A, most Gospel readings are from Matthew; year B, from Mark and John; and year C, from Luke. We are now at the beginning of year C.

Now that we’ve taken this quick trip through the year, I hope you can see that the church calendar, like all the liturgical traditions of the church, is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The calendar is a gift to us as it takes us through a journey in following Jesus, as it links us to all the other congregations listening to the same Bible texts and having the same kind of party each week. It can help us. Or it can, if misunderstood and (in my opinion) abused, it can make us focus more on “rite” living than “right” living.

If nothing else, when you go to worship this Sunday, when you see the blue clothes in the front of the church, the Advent candle waiting for a nervous acolyte, know that you are walking a journey that doesn’t end at a manger but inside the gates of heaven. I hope you choose to be there, to walk that path, and to have fun along the way.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before us and those who surround us now in the Christian family. We pray that the games we play at church draw us closer to you, help us center our lives in your presence and purpose, and birth in us the joy of fellowship with you and with one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Responses to “Friday, December 4th Matthew 28:16-20”

  1. Carole Says:

    Thank you for the walk through the church year.

  2. Carole Says:

    Thank you for this week’s devotions on the liturgical calendar. I enjoyed them, and learned a lot. I look forward to your devotionals each day, and want you to know how much I appreciate them.

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