Tag Archives: eschatology

Advent Reflection – 23

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

– Stanza 1 from Lo! he comes with clouds descending by John Cennick, 1752

As the season of Advent comes to a close, I think of these words of my favorite Advent hymn. These words elicit a mighty, triumphant return of Christ in the fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth. These words, inspired by the words of the book of Revelation, describe Christ’s return as a mighty King arriving in pomp and circumstance. These images have long been used to beautifully describe God’s ultimate return to the earth. Christians collectively long for the day when the sin and heartache of our world will fade away, and the glorious, endless peace of God’s reign will take hold. Regardless if you believe that Christ’s return will happen just like the words of this hymn explain, one thing is for sure. When the Kingdom of God does come to earth, and Christ’s Way is the way of all humanity, throngs of angels will rejoice in heaven. All of creation will be sanctified. All people will walk with integrity and justice will flow like a mighty stream. When that day does come, may we all in unison shout ALLELUIA to our God! Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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Advent Reflection – 14

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people the coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish, like grass our works decay,
the power and pomp of nations shall pass like a dream away;
but the word of our God endureth, the arm of the Lord is strong;
he stands in the midst of nations, and he will right the wrong.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, the lambs he’ll gently hold;
to pastures of peace he’ll lead them, and bring them safe to his fold.

– Stanzas 2 and 3 from There’s a voice in the wilderness crying by James Lewis Milligan, 1930.

In several places in the Bible, it talks about the works of this earth will pass away when God’s kingdom comes to earth, and God’s kingdom will last forever. Just like former empires have crumbled, so too will those mighty governments of the world fade away when God’s reign comes to earth. When Christ returns, he will bring God’s reign for all the world. Peace will be throughout the land, and justice will flow like a mighty stream. These words are familiar to us from throughout sacred scripture. It is hard to really fathom what they mean. They are metaphors for a beautiful, unimaginible future that God has planned for all of creation. The fulfillment of God’s promise to the earth, and the santctification of all of creation. At some future point in creation, God’s power will descend from heaven and will transcend all of creation. Call it the end of the world. Call it the beginning of eternity. Call it peace. Call it what you will. It is in this hope that we move forward in faith, knowing that we are the people of God who are called to this hope. Let this hope shine in us like the light of Christ until God’s kingdom returns!

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Advent Reflection – 5

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Matthew 24:42-44)

Some Christian groups concern themselves with trying to figure out when the “end of the world” will be; that is, when the return of Jesus Christ will be. Those groups of Christians seem to be mostly concerned with the literal physical return of Christ in the sky to the earth, as described in the book of Revelation. But, is that how it will happen? What if Christ’s return is an incremental return? What if what Jesus is speaking about in the Gospel of St. Matthew is the coming of Christ into our world through the fulfillment of our lives in Christ. What if he never meant that there will be a set day/time when Christ will return in the sky? We cannot know exactly. What we can have faith in is what our sacred scripture foretells us, that one day Christ will return and rule the earth. We cannot know how this will happen. We cannot know in what form it will happen. What we do know is that we should be mindful of living our lives as Christ calls us to live them, acknowledging it is only through God’s grace that we may strive to follow Christ as we are abled, and to always be open and awaiting Christ’s entrance into our lives and our world.

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What is your “Omega story?”

I do not like the book of Revelation. I do not like its violence, its vindictiveness, its opaqueness, its psychotic visions, its attitude toward women, its enemy thinking, its dualistic world view, or its vacancy of love. I don’t even like people who like the book of Revelation since many of them use it to justify their crazier ideas about God and then scare other people with what they think they know.

I knew the moment that I heard these opening words to Barbara Brown Taylor’s sermon at Washington National Cathedral that it was going to be a good one. In this sermon, Taylor discusses different views on the stories of Revelation, no holds barred. She discusses how people place more importance on and judge others by “where they are from” or “what they have done in their past.” In other words, so many people place more importance on their “Alpha stories.” Instead, Taylor argues that what is more important is what we choose for our destination…our “Omega stories.”

It was not until I got to work on this sermon that I realized how important our Omega stories are. Not our origin stories, but our destination stories. The ones that tell us who we are by telling us where we are going. These stories may not have the same solidity that our Alpha stories do, at least not at first, because they have not happened yet. Which means that no one can tell us which one is right. All we can do is choose one from the wide variety of end-time stories that the culture offers us daily, and then hope that we’ve chosen wisely, since our Omega stories will have as much or more to do with who we are than our Alpha stories ever do.

Taylor certainly has a way with words. If you are a person who struggles with modern interpretations or emphasis on the book of Revelation, you must listen to Taylor’s sermon.

Listen to her sermon here.

Or, watch the entire worship service here.

Sermon based on the readings Isaiah 25:6-9, Revelation 21:1-6a, and John 11:32-44.

–From the 11:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral, November 4, 2012. Click here to view the accompanying service leaflet.

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