On December 1st, the season of Advent began. The word Advent means coming and Advent offers each of us profound opportunities to deepen our faith life and walk with Jesus. Advent is roughly a 4 week period in which we are invited to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming into the world at his birth and the time in which we anticipate Jesus’ second coming.
Because it is Advent, there is a great word in scripture to ponder. It is only found once and it is in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. That word is Maranatha. Some people think this word means, “Our Lord has come,” referring to Jesus’ birth. Other people think the word means, “Come oh Lord,” referring to Jesus’ second coming.
Finally, a lot of folks think the word carries both meanings. That Maranatha means Christ was born and Christ will come again. I fall into this camp and therefore think that the word Maranatha is a fabulous word to think about during Advent.
If indeed Maranatha refers both to Jesus’ birth and second coming, it means that you and I, like everyone since Jesus’ resurrection, are living in, in-between times. In between the time Jesus lived among us and when God will make everything right with Jesus’ second coming. Although there is much mystery, as people of faith we are invited to trust that when Jesus comes again, there will be no more suffering, pain, heartache, and we will be free from all that is currently askew.
I believe Jesus’ second coming is great news. I am overjoyed at the thought that one day everything will be as God wants it to be. As God is love, I can’t wait till love is the essence of our existence without anything that gets in the way of such love. I long for such a time in which, as scripture describes, there will be no more tears and the lion will lie down with the lamb.
Jesus’ second coming serves as a foundation for great hope, the hope that comes from realizing one day God’s kingdom will be fully present and everything will be as it should be.
Advent is a season whose purpose is to get us to focus on all of these things and as such, it is a season of expectation, preparation, repentance or turning back to God, joy, and a time to get refocused. In fact, I think it is the time of year to remember three important words. Those words are, anticipate, celebrate, and elevate. Over the next three weeks, I invite you to join me in taking each of these words, one at a time, for one week each, and to ponder and pray about what each word might offer us in our journey in faith.
To help us remember the three words, I introduce the acronym ACE. A – Anticipate, C – Celebrate, E – Elevate. For this week, let’s focus on the A of Ace or anticipate.
You may remember the story of a woman named Florence Chadwick. Florence was born in the San Diego area of California which is probably why she set her sights on swimming between Catalina Island and the California coast. In July of 1952 she made her first attempt, but failed to make it to the shore. When she was rescued, what Florence did not know because the fog was so thick was that she only had a half mile to go when she got out of the water. She later said, had she known that her destination was so close, she would have continued.
Because of this, two months later, she tried again on an equally foggy day. This time she made it. She said that the second time she attempted the crossing, she kept the image of the shore in her mind. In other words, she took each swimming stroke with where she was headed in her consciousness.
As we live in this in-between Maranatha time, between Jesus’ first and second coming, Florence’s story can be incredibly helpful to you and to me. If we know our destination is God. If we keep our eyes on Jesus. If we trust that all will be well when it is all said and done.
If we embrace the truth that one day everything will be as it should be and ultimately we have nothing to worry about. If we accept that God is love and love prevails. If we anticipate these things and if we keep such ends in mind, I believe, we can move through each day with a sense of peace, release, anticipation, and hope because we know how the story turns out.
All will be well. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But one day, one day, all will be well and we can live with this end in mind. We can live each day keeping this unifying simple idea that one day all will be well front and center. So in the meantime, we can let go of a lot of worry and angst and live with a sense of joyous anticipation and in fact hope.
Jesus has come. Jesus will come again. In the meantime, I invite us all this week to anticipate with joy and hope what happens when it is all said and done, that all will be well. All will be more than well, thanks be to God. Happy Advent!