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the crowning of the year: liturgy for Christ the King

Rather than a traditional liturgy for Christ the King Sunday, I’ve adapted an idea from colleagues at the New Wilmington Presbyterian Church to walk through the liturgical year on Christ the King Sunday.

The Crowning of the Year

Call to Worship

This is the day the Lord has made!
This is the crowning of the year!
The life of Christ is the model for our own, and he shapes all we say and do.
The Lord reigns over all our days.

Hymn: Rejoice, the Lord Is King

Advent: Preparing to Welcome Jesus


God has always been present with God’s people.
Amidst the changing days of this world,
amidst flood, fire, and famine,
amidst death, life, and new life,
God’s presence has sustained us.
For generations, women and men longed for that presence to be more real.
They waited for God to step in and make God’s presence known.
And so in Advent we too stop and wait,
remembering that God comes among us in Christ to make all things new.

In the midst of the waiting, God speaks in the voice of the prophet Isaiah
to give comfort and call the people to prepare the way for something new:

Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11

Hymn: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Christmas: Immanuel, God-with-Us


In Jesus Christ, God steps into our world.
In Jesus, God became human, Immanuel, God-with-us.
At Christmas, we remember how he was born of Mary,
how his lowly birth shows us that God stands with the poor and powerless,
how he feels for all our sadness and shares in all our gladness.

And so we hear again the story of his birth, according to Luke:

Reading: Luke 2:1-20

Hymn: Away in a Manger

Epiphany: The Light Shines in the Darkness


In Christ, light broke through into our weary world,
shining the brightness of God into all brokenness,
into all pain and sorrow and suffering and sighing,
into every uncertainty and anxiety and hopeless place.

At Epiphany, we remember how the light of Christ
shines into our hearts and our lives,
transforms us into the people God intends for us to be,
and compels even those from far away to journey to see the light.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah:

Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

Hymn: As with Gladness Men of Old

Baptism of the Lord: Jesus Is Marked as God’s Own


Just as we do, Jesus grew in age and stature,
following in his parents’ footsteps.
Like his father, he took up carpentry as his trade.
Like his mother, he opened himself to the fullness of God’s life in his own.
When the time was right, he journeyed out into the wilderness
and responded to the call of his relative John,
as told by the gospel according to Mark:

Reading: Mark 1:4-11

Hymn: When Jesus Came to Jordan

Lent: Penitence and Preparation


Early in his ministry, Jesus endured a time of testing and trial.
Mark describes it this way:

Reading: Mark 1:12-13

So remembering all the trials of Jesus’ life
and seeking to deepen our own faithfulness alongside his,
we celebrate Lent,
forty days of penitence and preparation,
forty days of setting aside the things that keep us from right relationship with God and our neighbor,
forty days of taking up a new way that can bring us closer to God in Christ.

Hymn: Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday: God’s Love Revealed


Jesus lived a faithful life,
teaching the people and his disciples more about who God is
and how God is at work in the world.
He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and called people to repentance.
He proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of God.

But not everyone agreed with him.
His words threatened the powerful and challenged the status quo.
When the time came for him to face the authorities,
he was abandoned by those who loved him.
Even amidst his innocence, he was condemned to death,
hung on a cross and left to die.

The gospel according to Mark tells us the sad story:

Reading: Mark 15:25-41

Hymn: Were You There?

Easter: The Lord Is Risen!


The story of God in Christ did not end on the cross.
On the third day, something strange happened:
Jesus was raised from the dead.
In the resurrection,
God shows us once and for all that death does not have the last word.
God reminds us that nothing can keep us from the fullness of God’s love.

Again, we hear from Mark:

Reading: Mark 16:1-8

Even amidst their terror and amazement, Jesus was not there—he was raised!
And so every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection once again.

Hymn: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

Pentecost: The Holy Spirit Comes Among Us


In the days after his resurrection, the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples
and made it clear that he was not just a ghost but a real man, living once again.
He told his friends that he would not be able to be among them forever,
but he did promise that God would send them the Holy Spirit to journey with them.

God kept God’s promise.
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came among the people with great power and glory.
The book of Acts tells it like this:

Reading: Acts 2:1-13

And so even now, every year on Pentecost
we celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit among us.
We remember how the Spirit inspires us to believe the good news of the gospel,
how the Spirit opens us to new relationships with God and one another,
how the Spirit helps us to join in God’s work of making all things new.

Hymn: Gracious Spirit

Ordinary Time: For The Living of Our Days


While we have seen God at work in the movement of the life of Jesus,
we also see how God is working in us too to make all things new.
God’s presence is real even in the most ordinary moments of life and living.
Even amidst the struggles of the day to day,
we know that God journeys with us everywhere we go
and shows us how to trust the fullness of God’s grace amidst all of time and space.

The writer of Ecclesiastes put it well:

Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Amidst all the time of our lives, may we know the God who reigns over all our days.

Hymn: God of Grace and God of Glory

[Include necessary elements of the weekly service here, such as Prayers of the People, announcements, and the offering.]

The Reign of Christ: Already and Not Yet


Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
He reigns over us and all our world with justice, mercy, and peace.
As we celebrate this reign today,
the psalmist reminds us of the majesty and grace of our sovereign and Lord:

Reading: Psalm 93

So as this year comes to an end and a new one begins,
may we sing all joy and praise to Christ who reigns now and always.

Hymn: Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

Charge and Benediction

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, NY

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  1. Andy, this is spectacular. Thank you.

  2. Thomas Dummermuth (@dummermuth) says:

    I concur with MaryAnn, wholeheartedly.

  3. Janet Macgregor-Williams says:

    Well done Andy. I have laypeople to speak on Advent and Lent/Holy week. I have a retired minister who worships with us, who is taking Pentecost. So we will get to hear from some different voices. I will fill in the rest and may borrow portions of your work.

  4. Jerie Messer Lukefahr says:

    A late entry – but hope it helps… Call to Confession for Christ the King Sunday:

    We don’t like Earthly kings so much anymore, Lord. No, we don’t. We’ve moved on in this New Century, and have created other things to rule our lives: our cell phones, our favorite sports teams, our shopping malls, our Facebook pages, our calendars crowded with to-do lists and appointments, our worries, our bills to pay…it seems we have agreed to serve just about everything and everybody -except for You. Forgive us. May Your Kingdom come, to a place right here in our hearts, where you rule as our Good Shepherd, with love, compassion and forgiveness. Amen.

  5. Walk jones says:

    Brilliant! Love it. So glad I saw your tweet.

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