Final and Second Comings
Have you ever wondered what it means when Christians refer to “the second coming?” The season of Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas, invites us to consider two “second comings”—two Advents. The first coming might better be called the “last or final coming.” In its historic creeds, the Church refers to this coming when the Nicene Creed states, “He (Jesus) will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” The Apostles’ Creed says the same thing when it states, “He (again referring to Jesus) will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The “final coming” is the Church’s way of saying that God’s purpose for all of creation will be fulfilled; that one day God, human beings, and all created things will live in loving communion with one another. All created things will acknowledge the supremacy of God’s love. The final judgment will not see the arrival of a Rambo-esque figure eradicating evil with the latest weaponry, but the triumph of love. Paul describes it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.” This is the beginning of a process that ends with God being “all in all.”
The other “second coming” might more appropriately be referred to in the plural-- “second comings.” This refers to all those occasions—all the “second comings”-- when Christ’s redeeming love breaks into our lives. Just a few days ago, Judy Gardner, who coordinates St. Timothy’s tutoring program at Mercer Elementary with 43 at risk kids, shared some of these “second comings.” She shared four examples of the love that is born out of the connection between the tutors and their students. One 2nd grade boy who struggles with reading told his tutor that he likes to take his Whiz Kids books home and read them to his brother. Another third grade boy for whom school has always been a struggle has been reading to his mom, and much to everyone’s surprise wrote a very readable paper at the tutoring session. One fourth grader was so upset by her tutor’s recent surgery that she became physically sick. It turns out she has family member who recently died from melanoma. Another tutor is helping the dad of a first grader understand how to help his daughter love reading. These are all “second comings of Christ”—all advents of God’s redeeming love, healing, mending and restoring the world.
When Jesus told his disciples to “Keep awake!” he didn’t want them to miss the arrival of God’s mighty power. If we stay awake this Advent, we will see Christ come again and again and again.