Sunday, December 13, 2015

Come, Lord Jesus

Many followers of western Christianity celebrate Advent beginning four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time of spiritual preparation for and anticipation of the coming of Jesus. It’s viewed as a two-fold celebration, both a commemoration of His first coming millennia ago as a humble child in a manger and a hopeful awaiting of His future second coming in power and glory to rule and reign on Earth for a thousand years of peace.

This Advent season has been particularly poignant to me as I’ve been following the news. It seems that there is a new tragedy every day, and much of that tragedy is caused by humans, compounded by other humans heaping upon the tragedy by blaming the victims for their suffering. I’m a fixer of things by nature, and I find myself feeling helpless because I’m powerless to fix things that are so fundamentally broken. I find myself longing for Jesus to come in power, take names, and set things right.

This gives me greater perspective on the outlook of so many people who lived at the time of Jesus. It is commonly taught among Christians that many people missed the significance of a baby in a manger and a carpenter turned traveling preacher because they were looking for a grand deliverer – someone who was going to come in power, take names, and set things right.

This leads me to consider what portion of Jesus I might be missing right in front of my nose because I’m looking for something larger and more dramatic.

Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) In a symbolic, yet very real, sense, Jesus comes whenever people gather in His name. What does it mean, then, to gather in the name of Jesus?

The obvious basic answer is church meetings, but I think it means more than that. I think to gather in the name of Jesus means to work with others to do the kind of work Jesus did. Jesus fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the poor, healed the sick, and brought people to God.

If we wait for Jesus to ride in on the clouds to fix everything that’s wrong in the world, we’re missing an opportunity to mitigate suffering now. If we join together with other people who are working to alleviate suffering, Jesus will be in the midst of us, unseen yet still ever present.

We all have different talents, interests, and life circumstances that will influence what we’re able to do to further the work. We shouldn’t feel that because we can’t do everything we can’t do anything. Some people are great at sewing blankets and coats for those who don’t have anything warm to wear. Others are good at helping the unemployed find jobs. Still others are able to travel to war-torn or disaster-ravaged locations to provide medical care and infrastructure. Some people are able to write letters to those who are housebound and lonely. There’s more than enough suffering to go around, and wherever you’re able to help, you will be inviting Jesus to join you.

Since I moved, I haven’t been as involved in the community as I was before. It’s something that I need to do better at, and this is a good time of year to get started. I don’t know when Jesus is coming back in power and glory, but I do know that until He does, He needs people like you and me to do His work. Near the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, we’re taught to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” As we do the works Jesus did, we’ll be doing our part to make God’s kingdom come and to make Earth a little more heavenly. Our actions will be our Advent prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

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