“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come… ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:1-8
Some Christians get confused during Advent. Jesus was born in the past, yet we pray during Advent, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We speak during Advent about the coming of Christmas when Jesus will be born in us anew, even though he comes to us every week in Word and Sacrament to be our incarnate, embodied Lord. Our Lord promises to be with us “wherever two or three are gathered in my name,” yet we await his coming in power and glory at the end of earthly time. It’s easy to misunderstand when thinking in linear, chronological terms. For God, time is not limiting or confining, so that the Book of Revelation can speak of the Triune God who is and who was and who is to come.
The season of Advent celebrates Jesus’ coming to us at Bethlehem, while at the same time we prepare ourselves to receive Him as He comes to us in our daily, ordinary existence in Word and Sacrament. We know He comes to be with us because He has promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the close of the age.” We look forward to His return to transform the whole of creation.
As Lutherans, we try not to get caught up in explaining how past, present and future are manifested in the reality of God coming to us in Jesus Christ. Rather, we celebrate the mystery of the Divine reality! We embrace the mystery and seek to live in it—which is what happens each week when we come together for the Divine Service of Holy Communion. In one sense, time stands still as we are in the presence of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We lose ourselves in worship, not worrying about how long the service lasts, what we have to do later in the day. We seek to be in the presence of the incarnate Lord “out of time and space,” free from worldly concerns and pressures, if only for a few celestial moments. We come to worship to be in the presence of the Alpha and the Omega, He who was and who is and who is to come!
Lord God, call us from our daily business and distraction each Sunday that we may rest and be renewed in your eternal presence, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church