For those of you interested arcane things, this is the penultimate Sunday of the church year. Last Sunday was the ante-penultimate Sunday of the church year. I find that this is an excellent way to avoid conversation at the endless round of Christmas parties that one has to attend in the coming months. If you start throwing around words like “penultimate” and “ante-penultimate,” pretty soon, you can drink your punch in peace. (I am thinking about writing a book entitled “A Misanthrope’s Guide to the Holidays.”)
The words simply mean “second to the last” and “third to the last” and refer to the fact that we are coming very close to the last or ultimate Sunday of the Church year, often called Christ the King or Sunday of the Fulfillment. As we come to the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Our attention is drawn toward the end of things, including the end of this world. The Christian message on this is grossly misunderstood in the world around us. We are rather like the grump sitting in the corner drinking his punch and wishing he were somewhere else. Christians have a bad rap when it comes to the end of the world. The truth be told, if you ever do get to talk to the guy nursing his punch in the corner of the party, you might find that he is interesting. What is more, if humanity would talk about the end honestly, we might find it to be interesting, even comforting. Christianity bears some responsibility here. Some have used the end of the world to gin up fear simply to open wallets. They have taught a distorted doctrine of the end of the world. But many of us have not talked about the end of the world at all and thus left a void in what people understand and thereby a beachhead for false teaching and the assaults of our enemy who likes it when we are afraid.