This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Advent day 26: Does Jesus’ coming inspire hope or hesitancy?

Mennonite Mission Network Staff member, Lynda Hollinger-Janzen, Marketing and Communications writer

Lynda Hollinger-Janzen desires to be known as a follower of Jesus. This pilgrimage has taken her to three continents. She is currently living in Goshen, Indiana, working as a writer at Mennonite Mission Network and as a self-employed massage therapist. She and her husband, Rod, delight in their three adult children.

Reflections drawn from today’s lectionary passaages: Luke 1:46b-55; Isaiah 33:17-22; Revelation 22:6-7, 18-20. 

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)

Does the Bible’s penultimate verse cause hope to surge in my heart? Or, do these words create vague uneasiness? Maybe even panic?

I remember sitting in a Sunday school class in northern Indiana where the morning’s topic was Jesus’ second coming. There was general dis-ease and self-conscious fearfulness around the circle.

“It would be scary to discover that I was left behind if all my family and friends were raptured,” one person said.

Another exceptionally honest person said she hoped that Jesus would wait to come again until September, because she was looking forward to hiking the Grand Canyon during the summer months.

What a contrast this discussion was to the prayers of our brothers and sisters in West Africa where I lived with my family!

Every morning, Virginie, one of my best friends in Benin would beg Jesus, “Come today, Lord! Have pity on us and rescue us today!”

Virginie’s life was full of pain – an abusive husband, hard physical work, not knowing if she would go to bed hungry that night. Jesus’ second coming was her greatest hope.

Today’s three readings from Isaiah, Luke and Revelation speak to people like Virginie, people for whom Jesus is truly their All-in All. Themes of God redeeming the devastating effects of selfishness and corruption run through the passages. Salvation comes when power is used to bring Shalom, total well-being, to all people. Tormented souls find peace in becoming one with God’s vision. Physical needs are met. All cultures share their finest achievements for God’s glory.

According to Isaiah 33:17-22, oppression and colonization will be history when God’s salvation is fully realized. The militarization of society, ethnic cleansing and children poisoned by water flowing through lead pipes will be horrors from the dimly remembered past. Predatory taxation and money-lending will be “but a fading stain on the carpet,” says The Message’s translation of verse 19. “For God makes all the decisions here. God runs this place and will keep us safe.” (Is. 33:22, The Message)

Mary risks death when she says, “Yes,” to God’s crazy plan that will turn her into a pariah and a refugee. Despite being pulled from the world as she had always known it before the encounter with God’s messenger, Mary says, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46, 47).

Today’s passages are good news to those on the bottom of society’s pyramid, but they threaten those who are nearer to the top. Those who have a lot to lose aren’t so excited about an upside-down kingdom. How am I using the power I have? What am I hoping to gain through the way I use, or don’t use, the power God has given me?

When I feel hesitancy about Jesus’ second coming and a reversal of world order, let it be a red flag for me. What in my life needs to change so that I can pray unreservedly as Mary and Revelation’s John did, and as Virginie continues to do? “Yes, come Lord Jesus!”

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