12/10: The End

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2 Advent, December 10

Isa. 40:1-11Ps. 85:1-2, 8-132 Pet. 3:8-15aMark 1:1-8

In the current climate in which so-called alternative facts obscure the very notion of truth, it is refreshing to land in the season of Advent and hear the announcement of “this one fact,” namely, “that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). God is Lord of time, Lord of the Ages, and Lord of every moment. God simply is and is sovereign.

From a merely human perspective, it may appear that the Lord is slow about his promise to return, but the Lord’s apparent delay is an expression of divine forbearance. God does not “[want] any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Advent is the season of waiting not only for the coming of the Christ child, but also and especially the coming of Christ at the end of time. “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed” (2 Pet. 3:10).

The problem and challenge, of course, is that the note of expectancy in this article of faith — he will come again to judge the living and the dead — is largely absent from the consciousness of the Church, and for reasons that are not hard to understand. It has been more than 2,000 years, after all. And we need to get on with daily life, which requires some sense of stability and some hope that tomorrow will arrive. Our abiding hope is that history will go on, not end. And, in a sense, this is a deeply Christian hope.

All created being is holy, time is sacred, our lives and bodies are temples of God. Christ came that we may have life and have it abundantly. Indeed, this temporal existence is good and beautiful and a gift of God from day to day. We need to live as if under a vow of stability to get on with a humane life, and to dispose ourselves to daily graces. And we certainly should never do anything to hasten the end, either of our own lives, or of history. God forbid!

Still, time runs out. The Bible tells us so. The elements dissolve. The flower fades. We will all stand before the great judgment seat of Christ. If this truth is allowed a proper place in our Christian lives, it will magnify the preciousness of time. Time is a treasure precisely because it ends. Each moment and each day is an unrepeatable opportunity in which the grace of God calls out for a deeply personal response that would occur in no other life and in no other time. “Since all things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness?” (2 Pet. 3:11) There is absolutely nothing morbid about this. Life ends. Christ comes. How will you live?

Imagine a high mountain from which an announcement goes out to the entire world, a herald of good tidings, good news, the justice and mercy for which the ages have hoped. A voice speaks: “Here is your God” (Isa. 40:9). It is fearful in judgment, and beautiful in mercy. “He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom” (Isa. 40:11). How will you live? How will we live together under the gaze of justice and mercy? God gives and will take away.

Look It Up
Read Psalm 85:10.

Think About It
The kiss of peace is the kiss of righteousness.


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