Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword Would seek to overthrow your Son And to destroy what he has done.
Lord Jesus Christ, your pow'r make known, For you are Lord of lords alone; Defend your Christendom that we May sing your praise eternally.
O Comforter of priceless worth, Send peace and unity on earth. Support us in our final strife, And lead us out of death to life.
-- Martin Luther, 1541
Michaelmastide & End Time
Michaelmas Sunday (September 23-29) has traditionally marked a major shift in Church Year emphasis, as we turn our attention to the end of this age and look forward to our Savior’s Second Coming. Michaelmastide is celebrated at that time in the year of nature when night and day are at a deadlock (each lasting about 12 hours a day). The green of the summer fields has now begun to give way to the brown of autumn, forecasting the bleakness of winter, which is soon to come. The red chancel paraments reflect this change from the green of summer to the red of autumn.
For Christians the conflict in nature is a reflection of the more critical spiritual battle in which we are being attacked by all the powers that threaten God’s creatures. This battle is emphasized in the lessons and Gospel appointed for each Sunday during this season of Michaelmastide. St. Michael (Revelation 12:7-12) epitomizes that great struggle: the conflict between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of darkness. In the end, however, Michael and the Church are victorious, just as Christ won the great victory over sin, death and Satan on Easter Sunday! And so we celebrate: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (Revelation 12:10).
During Michaelmastide the Church celebrates several festivals: St Luke, Evangelist, St Simon and St Jude, and All Saints’ Day. The chief festivals are St Michael and All Angels and Reformation Sunday.
St Michael and All Angels (September 29)
The archangel St Michael, whose name means "Who is like God?" is usually shown in art as youthful, strong, and clad in armor. Both the Old and New Testaments describe the protection that he and his angelic colleagues provide God’s people (Daniel 10 & 12; Revelation 12). The Church offers her thanksgiving to God for their angelic ministry to us and all believers.
St Luke, Evangelist (October 18)
Luke, the “beloved physician,” was born in Syrian Antioch. He became a close friend and companion of Paul, and the Gospel bearing his name is spoken of as being “Pauline.” Apparently he was talented and well educated. Tradition states that he was also a painter. His Gospel with its large number of parables and its poetic imagery reveals a unique appreciation for art.
St Simon and St Jude, Apostles (October 28)
Church tradition holds that St Jude, thought to be a half-brother of Jesus, preached in Mesopotamiafor ten years. He and St Simon are said to have labored together in and were martyred there on the same day.
The Fifth Sunday after Michaelmas: Reformation Sunday Reformation Day (October 31)
On this day, Lutheran Christians celebrate the anniversary of Martin Luther's posting his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Luther never intended to pioneer a new denomination but was instead interested in reforming the church of his day by preaching against the false teachings that, sadly, still emanate from the Church of Rome. Luther was forced to embark in a new direction when he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X in 1521. As Lutheran Christians we give thanks to the Lord for leading Luther to rediscover the truth and the freedom of the gospel which had for so many centuries been obscured by Rome’s work-righteous teaching on salvation.
All Saints’ Day (November 1)
Traditionally All Saints' Day is a day when the Church commemorates all those, known and unknown, who in heaven enjoy the eternal vision and presence of God. It is a time to rejoice in all who, throughout the ages, have faithfully served the Lord and died in the Christian faith.
The last three Sundays of the Church Year make up the season of End Time. Each Sunday has its own unique focus, as the Church turns her eyes to the Second Coming of Jesus. This King of kings and Lord of lords will come again to judge the living and dead and take those who trust in him to live forever in his heavenly kingdom. Jerusalemcustomarily uses this season as an opportunity to consider how Jesus will judge our use of his divine gifts and bless our faithful stewardship of them.
The First Sunday of End Time: Last Judgment The Gospel and lessons for this Sunday reminds us of the seriousness with which we are to treat God’s holy Word. Our God is a jealous God who punishes unbelief to the third and fourth generation but shows love to a thousand generations of those who love him and trust his Word (Exodus 20).
The Second Sunday of End Time: Saints Triumphant With much the same emphasis as All Saints’ Day (November 1), Saints Triumphant Sunday emphasizes the eternal glory of the saints in heaven and reminds us of our living fellowship continues with those who have died in the faith.
The Last Sunday of End Time: Christ the King
This day focuses on the crucified and risen Christ, whom God exalted to rule over the entire universe. As the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, Christ is the center of the universe, the ruler of all things, and the judge of all people. In Christ all things begin, and in Christ all things will be fulfilled. Christ has triumphed over all. The celebration of his lordship draws to an end the Sundays of End Time and also the Church Year. This day also points us to a new year and to Advent, the season of hope and the birth of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.