No uncertain future

Mark G. Schroeder

Sometimes you know exactly what’s coming.

In October, the morning frost on the grass, the leaves turning from green to gold and red and then beginning to fall, the squirrels gathering and hiding acorns, geese in V-shaped formations flying south—all of these combine to let you know exactly what’s coming. Winter will soon arrive. It’s inevitable.

The latest smartphone is announced. The speculation grows about what amazing improvements and features the new version will include. When it’s released, you know that millions of people will stand in line to replace their smartphones simply because they want to have the latest and the best.

Before Thanksgiving, the decorations appear in the stores and on the streets. Toy shelves are overflowing with this year’s popular new items. A different kind of music plays on the radio. All of the signs and signals are there. The Christmas holiday is approaching. It’s inevitable.

Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) is the season of the church year when we look ahead to the celebration of our Savior’s first coming in Bethlehem. The Christian church has set aside the four weeks before Christmas as a time to look ahead to that day when we remember and thank God for the gift of his Son. It’s a time of reflection and repentance and a time to remember what that first Christmas means for us and for a world of sinners. We light the candles on the Advent wreath. We open the little doors on the Advent calendar. Our children practice for the special Christmas children’s service.

Sometimes lost in the Advent preparation for Christmas is another event to which Advent points us ahead. Yes, Advent reminds us of Jesus’ first coming and prepares us to celebrate it. But it also reminds us of Jesus’ promise to come again—to that unknown day and hour when we will see our Savior return, coming not in humility as a lowly child but coming in the clouds in all of his victorious glory.

Our Savior has given us signs to let us know that his coming is not in doubt. When hurricanes strike with all their fury, when tornadoes devastate a community, when earthquakes demolish entire cities, when unspeakable evil snuffs out innocent lives, when disease ravages entire populations, when children starve—in each case we are moved to remember Jesus’ words, “I am coming soon” (Revelation 3:11). When false teachers lead people from the truth by telling them what their itching ears want to hear, when love grows cold and violence stalks our streets, when the church suffers persecution, when fears of war grip our attention, Jesus reminds us, “These things must happen before I return.”

Think about these things this Advent season. When we see those signs, let them remind you to live a life of repentance and faith. Let these things lead you to turn in complete trust to God’s promises that his love and protection are always with his people. Remember that he has assured us that nothing—not even the worst attacks of Satan or the power of hell itself—can overcome the church, which he holds in his gracious hands.

And even as the disturbing signs of the end surround us, let them move us to be filled with joyful anticipation for our Savior’s return. He has promised us that he will return. He has given us reminders that he will come again. And in the darkest times in this sinful world, he enables us in faith and trust and joy to pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”


Mark Schroeder is president of WELS.


 

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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 104, Number 12
Issue: December 2017

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