Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
In case you missed the announcement at church, we invented a holiday and will be celebrating it this Sunday, October 22nd! The holiday is called Parousia Sunday (“parousia” is the apostolic Greek word for advent or appearing) and we will be devoting the entire service to rejoicing in the hope of Christ’s second coming. Sounds awesome right!?! We agree. But I wanted to write a brief explanation of why our elders wanted to try this as a church. Here are the reasons in order of importance.
First: Numerous biblical texts command congregations (not just individuals) to set their hopes fully on, and to wait eagerly for, the grace that will be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ at the end of the age (Lk 12:35-40; Mt 24:46; 1 Pet 1:13; Tts 2:11-13; Heb 9:28; 1 Cor 1:7; 2 Thess 2:14-15; see all of Revelation but especially chapters 2 and 3). This is our attempt to take a step towards practical obedience.
Second: The Parousia of Christ is going to be amazing. Understanding the glory of what is promised to God’s people at the return of Christ will inevitably have profound implications for how we live in the present. The promise of the second coming has functioned throughout history to call the church out of lovelessness (my word) (Rev 2:7); strengthen them for persecution (Rev 2:10); establish them in faithfulness in cultures of compromise (Rev 2:17); and keep them in truth while surrounded and infested with false teachers (Rev 2:24-26).
Third: The Bible’s description of life with God in the world to come is breathtaking. Unfortunately for us, many have learned to associate this subject of eschatology with confusing imagery, controversial timelines, and overly-spirited debates between brothers and sisters. The result has been a general lack of interest and even hesitancy about engaging the subject biblically. This whole attitude toward the promise of the Parousia of our King is wrong and demands some steps of practical repentance. This holiday is an attempt to restore a proper sense of eagerness and anticipation of the second coming of the Lord.
Fourth: Liturgical calendars can be of great use in the worshipping life and health of local churches. All a liturgical calendar is, is a plan to spend certain days of the year emphasizing specific things. A calendar ensures that we are regularly and systematically engaging the most significant and mysterious aspects of our God who has revealed Himself to us in Christ. Like Jesus’ birth (Christmas), death (Good Friday), and resurrection (Easter), Christ’s second coming is a central concern of the Scripture’s teaching about our faith and hope in this life.
I pray that God uses this coming Sunday to establish a new annual tradition at West Hills that we will not only learn to get excited about, but eventually learn to thoughtfully expand on, in order to intensify our rejoicing in the hope of the second coming.