Every Advent there is a “the word is going to end” text. That’s because we are in a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of the Christ. This next coming of Christ is often called the Second Coming. And despite what the Left Behind series of books has told us, nobody knows the day or the hour. Jesus said so himself.
In Matthew 24 Jesus has told his disciples about signs of his returning, tells them what life will be like until he returns, and counsels them to live faithfully until he returns. And the natural question that the disciples ask is, “When?” When will all of this happen and when will You return?
Jesus’ answer? “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36, NRSV).
Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to focus on the when. Jesus wants them to consider how they will use the time they have until he returns. Jesus gives a few examples, including things like there will be two in the fields working and then there will be one. There will be two women grinding meal and then there will be one.
These things are ordinary, every day things. And in the midst of the ordinary, Jesus says, he will return. In the midst of working in the fields, Christ will appear. In the midst of cooking dinner, Christ will appear. In the midst of the partying, Christ will appear.
In the midst of everyday, ordinary, mundane life, Christ will appear. Just like he did before. Christ arrived on Earth in the midst of the ordinary and the mundane. And nobody noticed, but a few lonely shepherds and traveling wise men.
So, it kinda begs us to think about our own everyday, ordinary, mundane lives a little different, huh? As we drive to work or school every day, write papers, grade papers, clean the yard, cook dinner, wash the dishes, change diapers, mop floors, volunteer, pay bills . . . Christ may appear.
Douglas Hare calls this time of waiting – the time between now and when Christ returns – the “time of grace.” He writes, “God was postponing the last judgment so that many more might have a chance to hear and accept the gospel. It was a time for worldwide evangelism.”
We are still living in the time of grace. Though there are wars, there is peace. Though there are threats of destruction, there is hope. Though there is depression and anxiety, there is joy. Though there is hate, there is love.
And where is this peace, hope, joy, and love?
The answer is you and I. We bear peace, hope, joy, and love. The question is, what will we do with this time that we have? How will we use this time of grace?