Seasons of the Church:
What is Kingdomtide?
According to Luke 13:18, the Kingdom of God is like a tree. We are reminded to plant our roots deep into the heart of God’s sustaining Presence and Word. Simultaneously, we stretch out our arms in hospitality to the world.
The Methodist Church in Singapore divides the period between Pentecost Sunday and Advent into two seasons: Pentecost and Kingdomtide. The season of Pentecost recalls the gift of the Holy Spirit and the evangelistic growth of the church. The Season of Kingdomtide constitutes the thirteen or fourteen Sundays beginning the last Sunday in August and continuing until the beginning of Advent at the end of November.
During the season of Kingdomtide we declare the values and glory of the Kingdom of God. Christ is celebrated as King and Sovereign of the world, with emphasis on God’s Dominion over all of creation. The focus in this season is often on social justice and action that flows from a heart submitted to God.
God’s Reign was initiated by the first coming of Jesus Christ. He went throughout Israel, beginning in Galilee, preaching God’s reign: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus demonstrated the in-breaking kingdom. He preached good news to the poor, proclaimed release to the captives, gave sight to the blind, and liberated the oppressed (Luke 4:18).
With his death and resurrection he brought the power of deliverance from sin and death for all people, and was crowned Lord of the Church. That Kingdom is still breaking into this world. There are signs of the Kingdom all over the world, where individuals and communities have discovered the liberating, transforming and reconciling power of Jesus’ resurrection. According to John Wesley, those who have the assurance of salvation in Christ experience the Kingdom as the “immediate fruit of God’s reigning in the soul” and as “heaven opened in the soul” (Sermon 7, ‘The Way of the Kingdom’ I.12).
COLOUR OF KINGDOMTIDE
The colour for this season is green to indicate a time of growth. The seasons of the church are to some extent analogous to the seasons of the earth. Of course, in Singapore there is little distinction between seasons. Unlike regions further north or further south, it is green all year ’round.
Nevertheless, we remember that there are seasons of growth for the Spirit and for God’s kingdom. While we pray and seek the kingdom at all times, this is a special period to emphasise the biblical narratives and hymns that speak about the Kingdom of God.
Nevertheless, people are still dying without the benefit of experiencing God’s Kingdom. Evil abounds. Hunger of all kinds continues unabated. With all our advances in technology meant to improve our world, its streets are still spattered with racial strife and warfare. Clearly, the reign of God is not yet fulfilled. We exist between the already and the not yet. We worship the risen Lord, affirm our hope in the consummation of God’s Reign, and bear witness to the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Yet, while the church preaches and lives according to the Kingdom, it also looks forward to the time when, according to the scriptures and the communion prayer, “Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet”.
CHRIST THE KING: THE HOPE OF FINAL TRIUMPH
While we rejoice in glimpses and signs of God’s Kingdom here and now, we anticipate the completion of all things when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. With the Apostle we cry out “Maranatha! Our Lord come!”
One of the great hymns for Kingdomtide is Charles Wesley’s ‘Rejoice the Lord is King’. The fourth verse reminds us of the great Christian hope recited in our communion prayer, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!”
Jesus the Judge shall come,
and take his servants up
to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear
th’ archangel’s voice;
the trump of God shall sound, rejoice!
Published in 1746 as a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 15 and Psalm 97, Charles calls us to rejoice in Christ’s second coming and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. To read the whole hymn and hear its most common musical setting click here.
HISTORY OF KINGDOMTIDE
The term Kingdomtide is adopted mostly by Methodists. The Rev Hoyt Hickman, former Director of Worship Resources for the General Board of Discipleship (UMC), states: “In 1937 the former Federal Council of Churches sponsored a book on the Christian Year, which advocated observing a season called Kingdomtide from the Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) through the last Sunday before Advent. In other words, he was renaming the old Trinity Season. The emphasis was to be on the “Kingdom of God”. A second edition of that book in 1940 advocated dividing the season in half and calling the first Pentecost (beginning with Pentecost Sunday) and the second Kingdomtide. The latter period would begin with the celebration of Christ the King on the last Sunday of August. Since the American merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Church, The United Methodist Church (UMC) moved toward more ecumenical usage, with its adoption of the Revised Common Lectionary. Most UMCs now refer to the whole period between Pentecost and Advent as Ordinary (counted) Time or the ‘Sundays after Pentecost’.