Daniel 7:13-14

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Yesterday was the 1st Sunday in Advent. It was New Year’s Day in the Christian liturgical calendar. We are now in Year C which means that we will be hearing mostly from the Gospel according to Luke through the year to come. Luke, arguably the most socially conscious, the most subtly political, of the gospels. In that, it is the most challenging of the gospels.

The timing is impeccable.

I love the poetry and the imagery of Jesus “coming with the clouds of heaven.” It carries a sense of being rescued, of the cavalry coming to save the day. There is an unveiling sense to it, like the tearing of the temple veil. Here God comes out of hiding again!

But there is a dark side to this that has largely passed me by over the years. That dark side has to do with our expectations of the Messiah.

It strikes me this year in particular because I am haunted by a single sentence that I read recently. I don’t even remember where it was. But the gist of it was something along the lines of “Jesus came to us in humility but next time he is bringing a heavenly army with him.” And I thought, “Well, here we go again.”

That was the all too human mistake of the 1st century. Expecting a warrior Messiah, the crowds were disappointed by Jesus. “Crucify him” easily replaced “Crown him with many crowns.” Who needs a king who isn’t willing to kick some bad guy tail?

We do. Hasn’t the course of human history proven that?

“Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” Jesus didn’t offer that as a pre-game warmup. It was his strategy for living. The hard way, the narrow way, the loving way, the patient way, the godly way.

Let’s pray: Dear Lord, we are always on the lookout for short-cuts, for easy ways out, for rescue from ourselves. Help us see through your eyes today. Help us see where our vision is obscured by magical thinking, that we might be free to do the daily work on living in love in all areas of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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