Be on the alert!

Posted by on Dec 1, 2018 in Updates
Jesus is coming! His coming is certain, His coming will be “with great power and glory,” and His coming will have eternal ramifications for all of us. We never share the Eucharist without reminders that the One Who comes to us at the table is coming again. This truth informs the faith and hope of all Christians. I found that same hope in the Creed of the Maasai tribe in East Africa, which ends with this statement: “All who have faith in Him must share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.”

In our rush to get to Christmas, we tend to forget what Advent truly means. Yes, Advent definitely is John-the-Baptist-time, a time of penitential preparation for Christmas, a time to repent and make ready once more for Bethlehem, spiritually and figuratively speaking. We welcome again the Babe of Bethlehem into our hearts as our great Prophet, Priest and King, as our Savior and Lord, as the Son of God. We celebrate the fact that He is here, He’s ever near, He’s in our hearts, He’s at the table, He’s present to us in our daily lives, He comes to us by the Holy Spirit He has sent to us, as He promised to His disciples in the Upper Room. He is always Emmanuel: God with us.

For the present, we see Him in those comings only with the eye of faith, with what Paul identified in Ephesians when he wrote, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling” (Ephesians 1:18). But we’re told in Revelation (1:7) that when He comes again, “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.” That’s the great hope of our calling, the one about which Jesus gave His disciples final instruction on the Mount of Olives shortly before His betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

And in so doing we note that Jesus, far from laying out a specific timeline or presenting fixed, objective data, resorts to the genres of parables and apocalyptic imagery. Both are more shadowy and suggestive than explicit. Both genres have important and significant points to make. Both have single points to make. And in the Olivet Discourse, both the apocalyptic images and the parables are used to make the same point, Jesus’ final point, the one He makes three times for emphasis: “Be on the alert!”

That’s precisely what the Maasai are doing when they say we “must share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him.” When we live like that, with that air of expectancy, then we’re being obedient to the command of Jesus, “Be on the alert.” And we, like the Christians at Corinth, will be commended for “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Eager” waiting calls for a time of preparation, a time for making our New Year’s resolutions, a time for the deepening of our personal spirituality, a time for the expansion of God’s Kingdom through our witness, and a time for growth in our commitment to God’s work. It’s a time to be getting ready for all that comes next. May this Advent season be a special time when each of us prepares both for the coming of Christ at Christmas and for His coming again “with great power and glory.”

Fr. Alan Heatherington
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for our salvation slain;

Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah 
see.

Those dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshipers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!

Yet with mingled hope and 
fearing,
Wait we still our Judge to see;
In the day of Thine appearing.
Spotless, blameless may we be!
Ever watching, ever watching, ever watching,
Teach us, Lord, to welcome Thee.

Charles Wesley

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