Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. -Matthew 24:30-31 NIV
I grew up in a church community that was facinated with the return of Christ. As a teen, I read a number of books that argued we were living in the 'last days' before Christ's return. The sense the Christ's return was immanent, made any decision to live either for Christ or apart from Christ a serious and pressing decision. There was no little anxiety whether a person would be found faithful when the Lord returned.
I've since made my home among Presbyterians, and have discovered that when it comes to this issue, they are at the other end of the spectrum. Presbyterians don't gloss over Jesus parable of the virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). And our communion liturgy declares that "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." Yet I will dare that most Presbyterians have no expectations of Christ's imminent, visible return. Yes most believe that one day, we will be returning to God. But many have no sense that Christ will be returning to us and our world.
So why is this?
Maybe this is due to a greater trust in God's purposes.
Maybe we recognise the fruitlessness of divining God's time (we remember Jesus also saying that 'no-one knows the day or hour' of his return).
And maybe, just may we are somehow too comfortable with our present day arrangements. In terms of the world, we live on the top of the heap. And so we aren't that desperate for Jesus to come and clean up our lives or our neighborhoods. "We're doing just fine Jesus--why don't you stop by some other time..."
If that prayer, 'Come, Lord Jesus' rings a little hollow when you are thinking about your little corner of the world, maybe you need to widen your field of concern. There are millions of people who are hungry, looking for peace, waiting for justice. For them the return of Christ can't come too soon.
We may never be able to predict when the Lord is coming. But when he comes, may he catch us taking care of the least among us, and longing with them, for the fullness of his reign.