He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
It was Advent. Students at one of our area Lutheran high schools had chosen “Come, Lord Jesus!” as the theme for their chapel services. The words appeared on a large banner for everyone to see.
In those worship services, they heard again about the three comings of Christ: As a child at Bethlehem; through Word and Sacrament today; and finally, when he comes to take his people to heaven.
They sang out, “Come, O Precious Ransom, Come” and “Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel.”
They left for Christmas break with the cheery greetings of “Merry Christmas!” and “See you next year!” They were looking forward to singing, “Joy to the World” with their families.
Two days after Christmas, the phone rang late at night. “Sad news!” the caller said.
One of the sophomore girls had died in her sleep.
People stood in the snow to listen to the funeral service by loudspeakers, the crowd was so great. “Shocked” would be a good description. Death had drained Christmas joy.
When the students filed in for chapel after Christmas break, some were surprised to see that the Advent banner was still up. Had the janitors forgotten to take it down?
It was time for the mourners to face facts: Jesus had answered their Advent prayer!
They had prayed: “Come, Lord Jesus!” and he came.
But they didn’t mean for him to come like that! They prayed that he would bring joy to Christian hearts and peace to those who had not known he had paid the ransom for their sins.
They did not intend to pray for their friend to die!
But that’s what Jesus had intended all along. Their plans were not his plans.
Were these young people betrayed? Was this some sort of cruel joke by the one who controls life and death? Did this make a mockery of Christmas?
No, it was the fulfillment of Christmas.
Hundreds of presents were opened by the members of that student body that Christmas. Two days after Christmas, their friend received the best Christmas gift of all: a trip to heaven.
Silently, without waking the rest of the family, angels accompanied the Christ of Christmas to bring to her joy and peace beyond measure.
Jesus had told his early disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Stephanie’s place was now ready. She had prayed, along with her classmates, “Come, Lord Jesus.” In loving kindness, he came.
Did she miss out on living a full-term life? No.
Would she trade even a minute of life with Jesus in glory to be able to live to old age here? No.
Do we want to dictate to Jesus when and how he should come to us? Never.
What is Christmas like in heaven? Wait and see.
He tells us, “I am coming soon.”
Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.