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Thursday, December 1, 2011

ADVENT - THE SEASON OF WAITING

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From an essay by J.B Phillips
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"The Dangers of Advent"
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As a translator of the New Testament I find in it
no support whatever for the belief that one day all evil will be
eradicated from the earth, all problems solved,
 and health and wealth be every man's portion!
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 Even among some Christians such
a belief is quite commonly held, so that the "second advent"
of Christ is no more and no less than the infinite number
of "comings" of Christ into men's minds.
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Of course, no one would deny that there are millions of
such "comings" every year - but that is not what the
Christian Church believes by the second advent of Christ;
and it is most emphatically not what any writer of the
New Testament ever meant in foretelling his second coming.
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The New Testament is indeed a book full of hope,
but we may search for it in vain for any
vague humanist optimism.
The second coming of Christ, the second irruption of eternity into time, will be immediate, violent, and conclusive.
The human experiment is to end,
illusion will give way to reality,
the temporary will disappear before the permanent,
 and the king will be seen for who he is.
The thief in the night, the lightning flash,
the sound of the last trumpet, the voice of God's archangel -
these may all be picture-language, but they are pictures
of something sudden, catastrophic, and decisive.
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In my judgment, the description which Christ gave
of the days that were to come before his return is
more accurately reproduced in this fear-ridden age than
ever before in human history. Of course we do not know
the times and the seasons, but at least we can refuse to be
deceived by the current obsession for physical security
in the here-and-now. While we continue to pray and work
for the spread of the kingdom in this transitory world,
we know that its center of gravity is not here at all.
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When God decides that the human experiment has gone on
long enough, yes, even in the midst of what appears to us
confusion and incompleteness, Christ will come again.
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This is what the New Testament teaches.
This is the message of Advent.
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It is for us to be alert, vigilant, and industrious,
so that his coming will not be a terror
but an overwhelming joy.
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Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched,
 He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
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Acts 1:9-11
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The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before….What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you.
 And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God's [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait.
Something is on the horizon.
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Jan L. Richardson
 Night Visions:

 Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas
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