Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thoughts on Advent and the Second Coming

Advent is, of course, a time of preparation for Christmas, which is the celebration of God coming to earth in human form. It helps to be spiritually and emotionally prepared for the holiday. When we’re spiritually and emotionally prepared, we will have the right attitude and can truly appreciate the meaning of the season.

The purpose of the Advent season is to focus on Jesus’ First Coming on Christmas Day 2,000 years ago and what it means to us. But during Advent we should also consider a future event involving Jesus: his Second Coming to earth. None of us were around for the first coming, but it is possible that some of us could still be living when Jesus returns again – we just don’t know. So it is important for us to understand the Second Coming and why it is an important part of our faith.

Why Important

Some people find the End Times frightening, and there are some scary aspects to it. However, the Second Coming of Christ is good news to those who are Christians when he comes to bring his own to him. Mainly, the Second Coming gives people of faith hope. Hope about what?

Hope in that we know how it all will end – we know the ending of the story and the good guys win. It gives us hope in that the rest of the messianic prophecies will be fulfilled at Jesus’ Second Coming, proving that our faith has not been in vain. It gives us hope in that God’s justice will triumph. Finally, it gives us hope in that God’s plan will reach its complete fulfillment in the End Times As we say in our communion liturgy, we look forward to that day when we can feast at Christ’s heavenly banquet.

Why Talk about the Second Coming?

Some may ask, “Why talk about the Second Coming? Many think it will be far into the future, or there will be adequate warning for them to repent. We don’t know the timing, but we should always be prepared to meet Jesus in whatever way it will happen.

Jesus came the first time to accomplish some specific goals, mainly to set us free from the penalty of our sins. His work on the cross allows us to become children of God, adopted members of his household, if we so choose. When we make Jesus our Lord and Savior and accept what he did on the cross for us, we also receive the Holy Spirit to work within us. Then we truly become the clay and allow God to be the potter, molding us and making us into the kind of people we are supposed to be.

Regarding the First Coming of Jesus, the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. NRSV

At his Second Coming, Jesus will complete God’s plan by putting Satan where he belongs, and restoring the earth to the way it was supposed to be. At that time, the world will recognize Jesus for who he is, as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:10-11:

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NLT

What a great day that will be! We don’t know when the “fullness of time” will be for the Second Coming, so that’s why we should always be prepared and ready. Whether we view it from heaven or the earth, it will be a glorious time. God’s plan will be completely fulfilled, and we will be in the presence of Christ himself forever, as we read in Revelation 21:3-4:

“See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” NRSV

So let us not forget the joy of Jesus’ Second Coming even as we celebrate his first coming on Christmas. Let us also keep in mind what a tremendous gift God gave us on that first Christmas day. Let us also not get so caught up in the frenzy of the holiday that we forget why we are celebrating it. And if you are feeling down this holiday season, remember the hopeful words and prayer in the last two verses of the Bible, Revelation 22:20-21:

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. NIV

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