“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.”
“What a friend we have in Jesus,” are the words of a beloved hymn. We love the idea of “Jesus, our brother, kind and good,” as another hymn describes Jesus. Having a Savior who is our friend, our brother, who is kind and gentle, makes us feel secure. We can call on him in any hour of need. We can talk to him at any time and share our thoughts and fears. But on this coming Sunday, as we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, we remember that the little baby who was born in a stable and laid in a manger is the same Christ who has promised to come again, not as a kind, gentle brother but as a King in glory, as the one to whom every knee will bow and tongue confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Our faith calls us to maintain this dynamic tension between a kind friend and a powerful king. Jesus is our brother, and does act for our salvation through his sacrifice on the cross. But at times, we are tempted to reduce that image to one of a god who serves us, who meekly went to the cross. That is not the Jesus of the Christian faith. Our understanding of Jesus is of someone who had the power to call down angels to save him but chose not to, who held the power of the universe in his hands but chose not to exercise it. This is a god whose power is exceeded only by his love for us, but who will return as judge and master of all creation.
So as we come to the end of one year in the Christian calendar and begin a new one on the first Sunday of Advent, let us give thanks that we serve a God who is both loving and powerful, who holds our hearts and our futures in his hand. In this season of Thanksgiving we can count our blessings with joy.
Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, whose hand set the stars in the heavens and whose love created humankind, your power is beyond my imagining, and yet your love is beyond my comprehension. Help me to receive your love in my heart, to cherish your presence in my life, and to live as a child of the king of the universe today and every day. For I ask it through Christ the King. Amen.