Have you ever noticed that the Church year ends where it begins? We celebrated the Last Sunday of the Church Year yesterday, with an emphasis on the end times as we wait for Jesus’ coming. This flows naturally into Advent, with its emphasis on–you guessed it–waiting for Jesus’ coming. Even some of the hymns are interchangeable, equally acceptable for both occasions. “Savior of the Nations, Come,” “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” and “Christ is Surely Coming,” show that we’re waiting for Jesus, whether His first advent at Christmas or His second advent when He returns. And let’s be honest. Waiting is hard for us.
It seems like God’s people have been waiting since time began. Right from the time sin entered the world, God promised a Savior. So for centuries, God’s people waited. And waited. Countless prophets came and foretold a Messiah that some probably doubted would ever come. There was even a 400-year period of prophetic silence before Jesus was born. His people must have thought He would never keep that promise. But then, one otherwise ordinary night in Bethlehem, the promised Savior was born in the most unorthodox of ways–in a humble stable to poor parents. It was exactly the time God was waiting for. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” Galatians 4:4-5 tells us.
The promised Savior went about His work on earth in a surprising way too. He didn’t rally the troops and throw off the Roman rule. Instead, He suffered and died at the hands of those Romans. And then, most surprising of all, He rose from the dead to prove He has defeated even death for His people. When He ascended into heaven, He promised His disciples He would return. And His followers have been waiting ever since. And waiting. It’s easy to get disheartened and think that Jesus is never coming back.
2 Peter 3:9 speaks to us in our impatience. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Do you realize what this means? God is speaking about you in this verse. For the past 2000 years, Christians have been longing for Christ’s return. But if He had returned 100 years ago, none of us would have been born. God is patient until the time when everyone whose names are written in the Book of Life have come to saving faith. And just as His first coming in Bethlehem was a surprise, so will His return be a surprise. The Bible tells us that no one knows the day or the hour when He will return. So in the meantime, we wait in eager expectation, telling others the beautiful news about Jesus.
The Church year isn’t the only thing that ends where it begins. The Bible, likewise, does the same thing. What do we find in the first chapters of Genesis? God creating the heavens and the earth. A river flowing out of Eden. A tree of life in the middle of the garden. And where does the Bible end? Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth, the river of life, and the tree of life. Everything that happens in between Genesis and Revelation shows us all the trouble God went to just to get us back to paradise. This only makes sense, since Jesus is both the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. And He promises in Revelation 22:20, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Photo is Advent Wreath by Christine McIntosh