In Mark 13, the Gospel reading for today, Jesus spoke of a time in the future when the trials and tribulations of mankind will be resolved. In verses 24-27 he said: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send his angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth.” The time will come, Jesus said, when the Son will come and gather his people together to receive his eternal blessing.
Jesus went on to say in the same passage that no one, not even the Son, knows when this will happen. Therefore, he advised, “be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.”
Frances remembered that when she was a teenager in Hoquiam she one day was walking to a dreaded dental appointment, looked up at the foreboding clouds and thought, “this would be a good time for the Lord to return.” In a sense she was expressing the hope that the church was born with, that the time predicted by the prophets would come, the time when:
· Wars would cease, and peace prevail;
· When evil and sin is replaced with love and justice;
· When pain and tears give way to joy and singing;
· When this old house of an earthly body will be taken away and we will be given, as Paul said, “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor 5:1).
The church was born with this hope and one of the primary means of reminding ourselves of it is the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Cor 11:26 Paul wrote: “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” We don’t always think about the last words, “until he comes.” At this table we often stress his death for us, and all that it means, which we should, but we cannot forget these last words. In that small phrase, “until he comes,” our hope is summed up. Think about it. If the Son were not to return, what good did his death do? But Jesus knew he would return and his word to us was: “BE ON GUARD, KEEP AWAKE. FOR YOU DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE TIIME WILL COME.”
But the time will come. He will return. We anticipate his coming. And in the meantime, we proclaim his death until he comes.