The Holy Gospel: November 27, 2011 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 13:24-37

Meditation:  “Between Advents”

Except for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, every year since has been between the first and second advents.  Since we do not know the day or the hour when the second advent will occur, it’s impossible to know when we reach the “halfway mark” between the two.

The Christian year gives us an opportunity annually to “locate” ourselves between advents.  In fact, how we view the second coming of Christ is largely conditioned by what we make of the first one.

I was in high school and college when Hal Lindsey came on the Christian scene with his Late Great Planet Earth.  He alerted us to the return of Christ more than anyone else I knew at the time, and he joined with a host of others (before and since) who have done the same.

Strange as it may seem—I have never worried about the second coming.  I know some folks who almost get obsessed with it.  By contrast, I probably look pretty “unspiritual.”

But I’ll tell you why—I know the Christ of the first coming!   The babe of Bethlehem grew up, and (as William Barclay said it) “put a face on God.”

I do not believe God is going to do a “bait and switch” on the world when Jesus returns.  The Christ we know, love, and serve will be the same Christ who comes again.  Yes, the second advent will not be as hidden as the first one was—and today’s passage clearly shows that difference.  Jesus will have a regal splendor.

But it is still JESUS who is coming again, not someone else.  If we have put our faith and trust in him, we have nothing to fear. And we do not have to be “calculating” and “re-calculating” all the time in order to be ready.  We are ready every day because we are abiding in him.

Jesus can come any day he likes, and it’s okay with me.

The most important thing anyone can do between advents is to believe in Jesus.  Our faith in him will pretty much take care of everything else.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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