Sunday, December 2, 2018

He is coming. . .

Advent is less a reminder of the Christmas already past than it future still to come.  Amid a world caught up in the present, the Church lives through the past and directs the present to the future still coming.  He is coming. 

He is coming.  It seems like an irrelevant message to a people who are almost weary of the sound of Christmas that has been playing since Halloween, at least, and tired of the look of Christmas that has been seen in stores since before Labor Day.  It seems like a superfluous message to those who think things are okay as they are, life bearable, happiness achievable, death tolerable.  It seems like a strange message to those who no longer think sin a problem or even frame their lives in such terms.  It seems like a old message to those who, like Israel was when Christ was born, have stopped looking for or anticipating any fulfillment of God's promises.

He is coming.  The sad truth is that a Christian world content to have its best life now finds the whole idea of Christ's coming anti-climactic.  It is like getting the keys to the car of your dreams to drive now and the promise of an extended warranty.  Sure, that is good but not better than what I already have.  In contrast to this the Church continues to speak outloud what people would just as soon forget.  Sin still colors us and our world with the death that can never be a friend (even though at times it is a merciful). 

He is coming.  We know this because He came.  He came as was promised, first to Adam and Eve in the Garden and through the prophets this hope was kept alive until the eternal Son of God took on flesh in time through the Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Just as all things pointed to this incarnation for us and for our salvation, so now do all things point to a future already in process and one which we anticipate in the Blessed Eucharist, the foretaste of the Eternal Marriage Feast of the Lamb to come.

He is coming.  While the timing is enshrouded in mystery, the One who comes is not.  We know His voice and recognize it.  We have felt the splash of His water to bestow new life on us.  We have tasted His flesh and blood to feed our hungry bodies and souls.  We have come to Him with guilt and shame and found His mercy big enough to clear conscience and grant peace beyond understanding.  We have rehearsed this Gospel in creed and symbol in halting voices at confirmation and among the many speaking as one in the creed every Lord's Day.  We have been sent forth in His name with His presence to live out this kingdom now in preparation for the eternal to come.  Christ is not some ghost who comes to fearful people but the Savior who comes to finish His new creation to the delight of those who have known its beginning -- both in the world and in their own lives born of baptismal water.

He is coming.  This is what we say to ourselves in reminder and to a world distracted from any hope of the future.  Christ has come, Christ comes, and Christ is coming again.  And the hope and prayer of Advent is that we will be there to receive Him, loudly proclaiming, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.

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