Make Kingdomtide Great Again

I need structure in my life. I need routines. They help me focus on important things I can easily overlook. That’s one of the reasons why I have connected so deeply with the Christian Church Calendar. I wasn’t raised with it, but these seasonal themes and focuses give more shape to my spiritual life where it would otherwise be amorphous.

Today, I want to introduce you all to a lesser-known–but amazing–season of the Church Calendar that I’ve really enjoyed celebrating the past couple of years: Kingdomtide.

It starts November 1st (though in some traditions it starts earlier), and yes, I made a playlist for it.

The Christian Church Calendar makes beautiful sense to me. It tracks the year (and all of history!) alongside the life of Jesus. The Church Year starts in Advent, when we prepare for Jesus’ coming. It moves into Christmas where we celebrate his birth. Epiphany reflects on Jesus’ human life. Lent and Easter meditate on his death and Resurrection. Pentecost focuses on his Ascension and the descent of God’s life in us to equip us for our life here and now.

But then, there comes a big block of time called “Ordinary Time” until Advent rolls back around. It is the longest church season (almost half the year!), and it doesn’t have any particular focus or themes. It’s just…there. I’ve tried reflecting on its beauty, but still, it’s a little underwhelming.

A few years back I stumbled on a reference to a Church Season I had never heard of before that remedies this and makes even more sense of the Church Calendar. It’s called “Kingdomtide” or “Kingdom Season”. I’ve also seen it called “Season of End Times”.

It is a 20th-Century invention, and fell out of practice after a couple of decades, but I find it meaningful, beautiful, and absolutely needed for us today. So this here is my plea for us to bring Kingdomtide back into circulation.

In Kingdomtide, we meditate on how the ascended Christ lovingly reigns over his Kingdom here on earth, and we look forward to the end when he has promised to bring judgment and resurrection to all things. It serves as the final church season in the liturgical year so that, as monk Prosper Guéranger puts it, “the last notes of the sacred liturgy blend with the last scene of the world’s history.”

To that end, we focus not only on the future, but also the present–on little ways we can inhabit God’s justice here and now through love and service; how our growth in obedience is one of the primary ways we grow in freedom and mystical union with Christ. We spend these weeks reflecting on the entirety of our year to see how God’s rule was present in our lives (or not).

Kingdomtide also serves as a corrective for our contemporary political anxieties and tensions. It reminds us that Christ is our ruler and his Kingdom is where our allegiance and hope lie–not a political party, nation, or specific type of government or economic system. It is one of the happiest of history’s accidents that Kingdomtide always falls during American election season.

Different groups start Kingdomtide at different times, but I’ve chosen to follow how the Anglicans do it and begin on November 1st, All Saints Day (right after All Hallow’s Eve) and go until Advent Sunday. The big holy day for it is called Christ the King, which is the last Sunday of the entire Church Calendar.

Here are some ways you can celebrate this season intentionally:

Take some time these next several weeks to reflect on Jesus as King of this world, in all its beauty and brokenness. I hope that ending the Christian Year like this prepares us well for the new year season of Advent to begin. As the old Catholic missal says: “May we be so prepared for the Last Day that beholding Our Lord as Judge will be no more dreadful than seeing Him as a Babe in the manger.”

Happy Kingdomtide!

Icon credit: Ivanka Demchuk, “Christ in Glory”


2 thoughts on “Make Kingdomtide Great Again

  1. I agree, and our church still celebrates Kingdomtide as the consummation of all the other themes and seasons. Just one difference, we follow the old Methodist calendar so Ordinary time is divided equally between Pentecost and Kingdomtide, around 13 weeks each.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Church Calendar: Jesus’ Life and Ours | the long way home

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