This feast marks the end of the Church year, the closing of the liturgical calendar. Next Sunday we will begin again the Season of Advent and with that the full cycle of our observance of the life of Christ, and our own life of faith will begin again as well.
All of the feasts we shall celebrate we have celebrated before. They are familiar, they are ritual, essentially unchanging from season to season. And yet, no two are ever exactly alike. Something is always different each year. We are. We have changed.
Our lives, after all, are fluctuating things. We grow. We become something other than what we were. This sense of constant movement in our lives is no accident. It is there by God’s deign. We are a pilgrim people. We were created to be in motion. We were set in the world specifically for the purpose of moving through it.
A believer can move more easily through the world because a believer knows something about it that others do not. Those who believe know that the world is not theirs. When believers feel a bit ill at ease, uncomfortable, restless, unsatisfied in the world, it is not so terribly unsettling, because they know that, at times at least, that is the way it is supposed to be. They know that they are not at home here. They are guests, stewards, pilgrims.
Not wonderers, but pilgrims. There is quite a difference. Those who wonder don’t know where they are going or why they are going. But pilgrims do. Their movement is purposeful. It is directed toward a goal that is recognised and chosen as something good. That goal may not be understood. In fact, for a believer it certainly won’t be. But it can be known. It can be recognised. It can be chosen.
We can be secure in our pilgrimage – not comfortable, necessarily, but secure, because we are not the first to move this way. The pilgrimage through the world that is a life of faith has been marked out by Christ. The way to live, the way to move through a difficult world, has been shown to us, and so a believer becomes a follower as well.
Christ’s way through the world works because the world is His. It follows his design. Christ is king. He rules the world, he leads us through it, he gives order and direction and purpose to our movement through the world. That is what it means to rule. That is what a king does – gives order to the lives of his followers.
We move through a world that can at times be puzzling and frustrating, even painful, but it need never be dangerous or terrifying. Our movement is no blind groping. It is growth because it is led. We have a ruler: Christ, who is the Lord, who does indeed give purpose and meaning to our lives. We believe in Him, we honour Him, and we follow Him.