The invitation that closes the Book of Revelation – Come, Lord Jesus! (22:20b) – is an invitation to both the first and second Advent. We don’t know the time or place of the second Advent, but again, we launch out into the Christian year with remembrance of the first Advent. So, as we embark on yet another Advent journey, I wish to issue a word of caution: be careful what you pray for; you just may get it!
Too often we allow Advent to be a safe, comfortable, passive time of waiting for the beautiful, gentle, and mild baby Jesus. Our hearts warm to the retelling of the Nativity, with shepherds and kings, donkeys and lambs, angels, and Mary, and Joseph, and the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. What a lovely, simple, pleasant picture.
But I want to invite you to take some time for serious contemplation. Just what are we waiting for? What are we asking when we say, “Come, Lord Jesus”? Some deep meditation may reveal that we are asking for much more than we think we are. We are not simply asking to see a baby in a manger; we are asking for a Messiah and Lord who will change us at the very core of our being. When we say “Come, Lord Jesus,” we are also saying:
- Come, Lord Compassion – caring for others is no longer optional. When Jesus comes, we are all brothers and sisters. What we do to “the least” we do to Jesus. Caring for others – celebrating their victories and sharing in their sorrows – becomes for us a way of life. We become agents of God’s compassion in the world.
- Come, Lord Mercy – no longer do we seek vengeance or wish for others that they receive punishment for wrong. When Jesus comes, we no longer seek harm or retribution – we wish the best for all. We extend God’s grace and forgiveness to all.
- Come, Lord Justice – true justice is much more than mere punishment; it is a commitment to fairness, equity, sharing, and support. Jesus brings with him the essence and Spirit of the Jubilee – a time where everyone is free and fairly treated, where distinctions of rich and poor, have and have-not, are erased.
- Come, Lord Healing – in Christ, we seek true unity of Spirit and witness. We are made one body, knit together in love, faith, hope, Baptism, proclamation, and redemption. Judgment falls away as we forgive and forget what divides and destroys in favor of the things God calls us to care about. We are healed as we let go of hates and hostilities, and commit to the celebration of the glory of God’s creation.
- Come, Lord Transformation – we are made new creatures in Christ Jesus. No longer do we suffer insult and injury, low self-esteem or crippling fear. It becomes crystal clear when Jesus is born in the manger of our hearts – we are known by all for the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit that manifests in what we say and do. We become known for our love, our joy, our peace, and our patience. When people think of us, they think how kind, generous, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled we are. People know that we are safe, in that we speak the truth in love, and we embody God’s love and grace.
It is impossible that Jesus comes into our world and that we remain unchanged. When Jesus is born, the world is a better place. We cannot make the Advent journey to Bethlehem and then return home the same. We will be changed.
So be careful this Advent season. When you lift your voice to say, “Come, Lord Jesus,” watch out! Your life will never be the same.
Be “A Light of Peace” on December 3 and 10
I invite you to extend “A Light of Peace” for the Korean Peninsula and for a world free of nuclear weapons. The World Council of Churches is asking all churches to light candles during special prayers and worship services for two Sundays, December 3 and 10. For more information, get resources here.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).