Summary: In light of the soon coming of Christ, we need to give ourselves to things that are urgent and important; and to things that are important before they become urgent. For the Festival of Christ the King
I like shortcuts. I like to find a road that gets me there in less time and less distance. I love shortcuts, even when they are complicated. You may have to be a trained navigator to follow my shortcuts, but I like them.
Years ago, in order to take my son to sports events, I worked out the shortest route from my home to RFK Stadium. If you go down New Hampshire, cut off over Third Street to South Dakota, then down Twelfth Street Northeast and around Israel Baptist Church and the Brentwood Post Office, angling around Mt. Olivet Cemetery and Gallaudet, up past Hechinger Mall on Seventeenth Street, left on East Capitol, there you are. I love short cuts, even when they are complicated.
This past Thursday I used my accumulated shortcut knowledge to get from here to Woodside Nursing Center to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital to the Hebrew Home and back in time to say grace over Thanksgiving Dinner! With ten whole minutes to spare, because of short cuts! I love shortcuts.
But every now and again the shortcuts catch up with me. Every now and again something sneaks up on me, catches me by surprise. Sometimes soon is sooner than it was!
I found a shortcut to my doctor’s office. Her office is in Laurel. You can get there using the main highways, but it’s longer to do that. I found some back roads, including one that goes through a gravel pit and is pocked with potholes. But what’s a pothole when you are saving time? What’s a blown out tire when you have trimmed a couple of hundred yards off your travel distance? I like that shortcut, gravel pit and all. But more recently I found a shortcut to the shortcut. I found that if I turn off the main road one intersection earlier, there is a spur that will shoot me over to my gravel pit a lot faster. So now I take the shortcut to the shortcut. But there is one problem. There is just one issue: the turn to that spur is hidden among a clutter of buildings; it’s not well marked, and so I get to it before I’m ready. All of a sudden there it is, it’s time to turn – NOW! And you know, the other drivers are so nice about that! Why they just respond to my “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker! But when it’s time to go, it’s time to go, ready or not. Soon is sooner than I thought it would be.
“Soon” is the key word for today. “Soon” is the word for this last Sunday of the Christian Year. The Festival of Christ the King reminds us that the one who was with the Father before all time, the one who came as an infant at Christmas, the one who went to cruel Calvary and who rose victorious from the grave, the one who ascended to places unseen – this same one will come again. This Jesus Christ is on a march toward the end. He will complete all human history. The day is coming when, as the Book of Revelation proclaims it, He will become “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” and “every eye shall see Him.” This world around us is temporary. This history we live – it had a beginning and it will have an ending. The Lord Jesus is coming again.
The Bible does not permit you to calculate when that will be. Lots of misguided people have tried and failed. We do not know when He will return. But at the same time, the Bible does give one clear word about the end. The Scripture does speak one powerful syllable about when it will happen. That word, that syllable, is “soon”. “Soon”. Three times in this last chapter of the Bible, the Lord says, “I am coming soon”.
Well, how soon is soon? Nearly two thousand years have passed since this book was written, and so “soon” may look like an exaggeration. “Soon” does not appear to mean soon. And yet, given that God’s measure of time is different from ours, is it possible that soon is sooner than it was? Is it possible that the Lord might indeed be on His way? I don’t read tea leaves, but this I do know: I want to be ready. Don’t you? I want to be ready. I need to get ready now, because soon is sooner than it was. And like that turnoff to the gravel pits toward my doctor’s office, it may come before I really expect it to. We need to be ready. What do we do to get ready?
There’s a little exercise that helps me in my daily work. I use this to help me figure out what I need to be doing. I’ve reproduced it in your bulletin. Let’s look at it a moment.