DAY OF THE LORD . . . Another version

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (Reference: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 )

I do not know how consistent this narrative of the “Day of the Lord” is to other narratives, either written by the same writer as that of 1 Thessalonians (Paul) or by other epistle writers. It would be an interesting study. Such a study would need to take into account whether the “Day of the Lord” is the one of punishment or the gathering of the faithful – both dead and still living. Even in this series of verses on the theme of “Day of the Lord” has not been consistent in its accounts.

It is accounts such as these from the first letter to the Thessalonians that rapture stories are made of. I remember them first in the early to mid 1970’s, and then again with the “Left Behind” series, that has been a subject of many of my postings. In fact in December 6, 2009 I wrote about the “Left Behind” series and made some observations about that series in conjunction to this passage and a possible explanation as to why Paul wrote what he did to the Thessalonians. Clink on the underlined Dec 6 date to be taken to that post. I also post there what historic Anabaptist Jan van Hasebroeck wrote to his wife. It is, beloved, a love letter. It is of course a reminder and exhortation to faith – a great deal of the writings of the historic Anabaptist were. But it is also a love letter, testifying to his love for his wife and children and the hope that a time will come when they will no longer be separated.

This portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is also a love letter, outlining the love that God and our Lord Jesus Christ have for the believers, both those now dead and those still living. If Paul’s vision is accurate and correct, it is also still relevant. That everyone one who Paul knew and wrote to has already passed away, and their families also have passed away, and even theire descendents have passed away, and that countless generations after that have passed away – none of that matters if Paul’s vision is still accurate. It could still happen! Will it happen that way though? I do not know. But it is a lovely thought and vision.

May you beloved hold fast to your faith and belief so that when Christ returns, however the Divine returns, you will be welcomed into that holy presence! See you there! Selah!!

The Second Week of Advent: The Coming of John

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” (Mark 1:1-3)

We are coming close to being two weeks away from Christmas, and I am sure earnest preparations are underway. But also need to prepare ourselves – but not quite as much as the people of Jesus’ time needed to be prepared. These verses from Mark, though, are not about the preparation of the baby Jesus but of the adult Jesus who was on the cusp of beginning his ministry. John the Baptist was to prepare the people for the coming of the adult Christ. But John the Baptist also calls us to preparation, both for the baby Jesus and for the adult Jesus.

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark : 4 & 5)

It can be confusing, and maybe a little humbling, to confess our sins to a baby, even if the baby is divine. But the first needed action of confession to confess that we need the baby Jesus; and just maybe some innocence and wonder in our lives. We talk about seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes; that does not mean wishing and dreaming about a catalog of toys. It means seeing and appreciating simple things, innocent things, and giving thanks for them.

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1: 6-8)

John the Baptist must have cut quite a figure in those times – and would probably more so in our contemporary times. John made them, and can make us, stop and think. Something wondrous is coming; are we ready? We do not want to be caught unprepared for this wondrous thing. Just as we prepare for the coming of a baby, or the coming of an honored house guest, we need to prepare ourselves for Christ. During Advent the appearance of John means that our own internal and spiritual preparations need to be under way. May you be prepared, beloved reader. Selah!