This past Sunday, I had the task of preaching the 2nd coming of Christ… for the 3rd time in less than 6 months. And it wasn’t until this last time that I realized why the first two times had been so challenging…
The first time was from Mark 13 and I arrived at the proclamation that Christ calls us to watch and to pray. We are all called to stay awake and to guard against apathy and indifference in our anticipation of the coming King.
The second time, we were going through the Lord’s Prayer and I was given the petition “thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I wrestled with this one as well… but ended up sharing that as we pray the Kingdom into impossible situations and hopeless circumstances, we begin to find hope. We begin to remember that today’s reality is not all there is… that Our Father’s Kingdom is surely coming in the future… and is indeed already breaking in! We begin to hope for the only thing that is worth hoping for… we begin to hope as sons and daughters of the Kingdom… for the coming of Our Father’s Kingdom… and this is the only hope that will never disappoint.
And then this last time, I was stumped. Not that I have any delusions about being able to exhaustively explore any promise of God to the point that there is no more to receive… but it was definitely difficult to have these sermons come in such rapid succession: May, October, November. So as I expressed some frustration to Geoff at not knowing where to go again, he casually proposed that maybe God was trying to tell me something.
And in that moment, Christ suddenly appeared… in a kairos moment kind of way. And I began to wonder… what am I needing to receive in this third invitation to preach His return?
And I began to admit that I had always shied away from passages about his sudden return… and it started to make sense.
I associate ‘suddenly’ with trauma. And it’s no wonder… My father was killed in a car accident. My mom had an aneurism and died suddenly. There’s a good reason that I took up kickboxing in college… I’ve lived my life, ready to defend and protect at a moment’s notice… expecting to have the rug pulled out from under me without any warning whatsoever.
And the word ‘suddenly’ makes me take a fighting stance. Images of people being swept away as in the time of the flood of Noah, one person being taken and another remaining, slaves being given over to be cut into pieces, and bridesmaids who pound on locked doors certainly don’t help.
And so I saw that the concept of ‘suddenly’ needed to be re-imagined in me. And the Good Shepherd began to lead and guide, to restore my soul. And I reflected on how Immanuel has been suddenly appearing in my life in the last year as I have become more convinced of His promise to be with me until the end of the age… like when my son suddenly appreciated me for something simple… when I read an email from a friend in Africa and was suddenly amazed… when a breeze suddenly kicked up and made me take in a breath of wonder… suddenly surprised by how much my husband loves me… suddenly sensing the presence of the Lord as I listened to a friend pray for another friend… suddenly aware of the Lord’s presence with me in an ordinary moment as I was knitting a hat… suddenly… Christ suddenly appearing, and me, being transformed by His presence.
Suddenly… the miracle baby John, suddenly leaping in Elizabeth’s suddenly fruitful womb as Christ suddenly appears, cloaked in Mary’s sudden yielding. Advent is the season of hope… we watch and we wait and we expect His sudden appearing…