As we come towards Advent, we begin to think of God’s final coming to earth. We balance remembering his coming as a child, but along side that look forward when he comes back again. This would tie in with last weekends All Soul’s Day and All Saints Day, as we remember the faithful departed.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (CEV)
The Lord’s Coming
13 My friends, we want you to understand how it will be for those followers who have already died. Then you won’t grieve over them and be like people who don’t have any hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life. We also believe that when God brings Jesus back again, he will bring with him all who had faith in Jesus before they died. 15 Our Lord Jesus told us that when he comes, we won’t go up to meet him ahead of his followers who have already died.
16 With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life. 17 Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. From that time on we will all be with the Lord forever. 18 Encourage each other with these words.
It is difficult to know what this passage has to say to our daily lives. I thought several times about just ignoring it, but didn’t want to do that. It is important not to ignore what we find difficult, but sit with it and see what it says.
Ultimately this is the foundation of our hope and a promise of God.
Yes, we will die. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, death and taxes are the only two certainties of life. But the promise is that when Jesus returns, he will bring with him all who have died in the faith. His return is not some triumphant ego trip, but a return of joy with all his saints. Then there will be life for all.
Much is made of what kind of life it will be when this happens? Will we recognise people, will there be pets, flowers? What will we look like? I don’t know the answers to those questions. I don’t necessarily feel I need to. The important bit is that God is there and we are – together forever. No matter when someone died, they, and we will be with God.
That is our hope and our promise. The rest is detail.