The theme at church this morning was being ready for the second coming of Christ. This was one of those church mornings where I did not know for sure what I believed, but I liked the singing. I particularly enjoyed the hymn, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” because it was about trusting in God’s grace, regardless of what is going on. The last stanza was about being clothed in Christ’s righteousness alone when Christ returns. What went through my mind was the Catholic argument that sola fide is unscriptural, that God will judge us according to our works, that trusting God’s grace is not enough. Maybe there is some middle ground between the comfort that I felt when singing this song, and acknowledging the importance of doing good works.
Our liturgy was about doing works of the kingdom of God here and now. Christ will come back and set up a just society, and we anticipate this in our missions to promote justice. One might as well be on the side of justice!
The pastor made the point in his sermon that Jesus came at just the right time: the world was united in a common language, there were roads, and longing for the Messiah was in the air. What a good time for Jesus to come, and for the message about him to spread. Yet, the pastor noted, Jesus was rejected.
I do not entirely agree with my pastor. Not all of the world was united by one language. A lot of the world spoke Greek, but what about Asia? And, if Jesus wanted to come at a time when his message could be spread, why not come in the age of television? Of course, even then, there are limits, since there are many people in the world who do not have a TV. One thing I will say: even if Jesus came and a lot of people saw his wonders, he would probably still be rejected by the powers-that-be, as one challenging their policies and stepping on their turf.
The pastor prayed later in the service about how we are hungry for good news. That is because there is so much bad news in the world. I have my reasons for asking questions about the second coming of Christ. But I can identify with the longing for hope. And there are many places that have good reason to long for it even more.