Beginning with All Saints Sunday and ending with Reign of Christ Sunday (Christ the King Sunday), November is a time when we look back in remembrance of the saints, but we also look forward as we await Christ’s coming again, more poignantly expressed in the season of Advent. In this season, we discover the many places in which God dwells—the heavens, the earth, the church, and each one of us.
This month begins with the end. A new heaven and a new earth become the place where “the home of God is among mortals” (Rev. 21:3, NRSV). A significant set of bookends is also prominent this month: The Alpha and the Omega is a recurring theme from All Saints Sunday and Reign of Christ. If considered linearly, there is somewhat of an inverted bell curve this month as the dwelling place of God is viewed as the top of the curve on both ends, and the sanctuary of the temple is the low point in the center.
The Hebrews texts point to Christ as the high priest, offering sacrifice in the place of more traditional blood and burnt offerings. It will be important this month to continually look backward and forward to lift up the connections between the offerings of priests and the offering of Christ, the high priest and humble monarch. This forward anticipation will also move toward Advent. For those observing an extended Advent, all these readings are salient parts of the whole season.
This month is also a time of great paradox because of the tension between death and life. All Saints Sunday involves remembrance, yes, but it also can be a time when death gives way to life. God is the beginning and the end, and death gives way to victory through Christ, the living and ultimate paradox.
When God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, where then does God dwell?