“Be patient, then, my friends, until the coming of the Lord.”
Advent is not simply about the first coming, or even the second coming of Christ. There is a third advent. St. Bernard of Clairvaux called it the “Middle Coming,” the long, faithful road from Bethlehem to the end of time. Here is where we encounter the presence of Christ offered to us—literally—in every moment. But many Christians over the centuries have operated with only a two-advent mind. There was Bethlehem—and then there will be the Great Apocalypse. With nothing, really, in between.
In Martin Luther’s day there was a famous German Anabaptist preacher named Melchior Hoffman who predicted that the world would end in 1533. Jesus would return—not on the Mount of Olives, but, conveniently, in the German city of Strasbourgh. When it didn’t happen, the Melchiorites pivoted, predicting Christ’s return in 1534, in the German city of Munster. Their violent attempt to seize the city led to the tragic Munster Rebellion in which thousands of Anabaptists died.
All we know for sure is—the God who was there at the beginning of time will be there at the end. For now, we are called to walk that bright road of the Middle Coming, where Jesus is returning over and over again. As pastor and writer Roger Wolsey assures us:
“Jesus returns every time we forgive ourselves and others, love unconditionally, extend mercy, offer compassion, act with loving-kindness, feed the hungry, protect the oppressed, heal the sick, visit the prisoner, speak truth to power, make peace, seek reconciliation, and pursue restorative justice.”
Prayer: Dazzle us daily with your Middle Coming, O Lord, until that day when you come finally in power and great glory. Amen.