SUNDAY OF THE ADVENT
“Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31
Dear Friends, today is the sixth Sunday of the Great Lent known as the “Sunday of the Advent.” On this day, we remember and commemorate our Lord Jesus Christ’s First and Second Coming to earth.
On behalf of all the believers, who over thousands of years gazed to the heavens and wait for the revelation of God, the prophet Isaiah exclaims, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” (Isaiah 64:1) This expectation and longing were first fulfilled with the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The heavens opened and God’s only begotten Son took on human flesh, born in a manger in Bethlehem. We are told in the Gospels that people joined the angels above, singing “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2:14) The One who split open the heavens and came down to earth on that silent night in Bethlehem, also promised that in the last days He will come again to judge the living and the dead. (Matthew 24:36-44)
During His first coming to earth, Jesus Christ humbled Himself to the point of a shameful death on the cross. But He will return to earth with His awestruck might and glory. Today, we find ourselves between the two comings of Christ — we live in the joy of His first coming and alertly wait for His Second Coming.
As the prophets and the people of the Old Testament were attentively waiting on the coming of the Messiah, in the same way we the people of the New Testament wait for the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, to return to earth at His Second Advent. In the context of our daily burdens, concerns, and occupations, we might overlook the importance of waiting and looking for our Lord’s return to earth, or we might consider it as an event very far distance in the future. However, every Christian ought to contemplate the Last Day of Judgement and aim to live vigilantly, in anticipation of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the act of waiting and the hope that arises from it that Christ uses to transform our lives. For us all sinners this becomes a path toward repentance and return to Christ, and for the righteous ones, it becomes a source of encouragement.
The first-century Christians lived with this expectation and anticipation. The word “Maranatha” was constantly on their lips. Translated from Aramaic, it means “ Come, Lord!” We find this word at the closing of the Holy Scriptures, in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). For the first century Christians, “Maranatha” was more than a simple wish or prayer; it was a way of life. The apostolic Christians lived their faith with expectation, with deep longing, and waiting for the return of our Lord. The epistle of Titus says, “We wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
Every year on January 18th, in the villages under the Lyngen Alps in Norway, the Norwegian people display a beautiful picture of the hope of waiting. After months of darkness on the polar nights, the people of the villages climb on top of hills to see the sunrise after months of darkness. On this day, one can only see the hints of the sun's rays on the horizon. Nonetheless, people with joy and expectation celebrate this first moment of light because they know that in the coming days the sun will continue to rise, and the sun with its glorious radiance will shine in its entirety.
In our dark and gloomy reality, if we climb to the top of the hill of our faith, we will see the rays of the Son radiant on the distant horizon. Henceforth, very soon the Sun of Righteousness, our Lord Jesus Christ, will shine brightly with His entire might, and herald a new and luminous era. No one knows the exact day and the hour of Christ’s glorious return (Matthew 24:36). But we can join the Apostle in confidence and say, “You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:8).
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!