What is this Coming Sunday’s Name?

The Lord be with you

COVID 19 has brought about numerous changes to our Sunday morning, indoors, worship service. Because it is easy to forget all the changes, especially because they are changes in long established practices, it has proven helpful to rehearse the changes each week during our “Welcome and Announcements.” Doing this has stretched out the Welcome and Announcements portion of our time and also crowded out certain other non-critical announcements. Something I enjoyed sharing in the past was historical and liturgical tidbits, and sometimes information about one or more of the hymns. I have chosen to share some of this information now as I will not have the time Sunday.

This coming Sunday, November 8, 2020, is the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost on the most common liturgical calendar used in the LC-MS. However, that has not always been the name we used. If my math is correct, when we used Lutheran Worship, the name would have been the “Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year.” When we used The Lutheran Hymnal the name would have been the Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity. I checked our denomination’s first English hymnal, the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (With Tunes) and found that we used the terminology of Sundays after Trinity and no special naming recognition was given to the last Sunday, let alone the last three Sunday’s, of the Church Year.

In the congregation of my youth, which used The Lutheran Hymnal, we actually used the name Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year. When I was in the Army, and attended a Lutheran congregation in North Carolina when possible, they used the name “Christ the King” for the last Sunday of the Church Year, but that isn’t an option in any of our hymnals. It is used today by both the ELCA and the Roman Catholics. If I remember correctly, the congregation of my youth also used Christ the King. (I remember this name especially because my children were baptized on Christ the King Sunday.) The current name for the last Sunday of the Church Year in the LC-MS is simply the “Last Sunday of the Church Year.” WELS offers a choice between Christ the King or the Last Sunday of End Time. The ELCA and Roman Catholics might opt for Last Sunday after Pentecost if they don’t want to go with Christ the King.

All this variety brings out at least two things. First is that there is now, and has been, a great deal of sharing done by liturgical churches. Take for example our parting words. They are not part of the liturgy in any LCMS hymnal. However they are found in ELCA hymnals. When a liturgical church develops its calendar, the framers of said calendar consult the calendars used by other liturgical churches and then modifiy the naming conventions to suite their own denomination. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. In deed, even local congregations are free to modify the denomination’s names as suites their local needs and desires, at least in the LC-MS. The second thing such variations reveal is the emphasis the denomination is hoping to bring out for the people. After all, the naming of days, and all our Feasts, Festivals and Commemoration, are intended to lead us to see Christ at work in history. So, for example, this coming Sunday, in the LC-MS, is also the Commemoration of Johannes von Staupitz, Luther’s Father Confessor. It is hoped that some might be encouraged to learn a bit about this man, his role in Luther’s life, and especially how Christ worked through him in pointing Luther to Jesus. It is hoped that the Pastor might take the lead in this effort. Following such learning, we might be encourage to keep Jesus central in our thoughts and lives, even in turbulent times. If I find the time, I’ll post something more about Staupitz later this week.

Well, this ends my “announcement” about naming nomenclature trivia.

Blessings in Christ,