The power of expectation is something that should accompany us throughout the year. It is with us when children are born; when the anticipation of serious trouble shakes the world; or when we are inwardly moved in a special way by our love for the coming Christ.
The so-called high festivals of the church did not originate by chance. They direct our attention to the truly important events of God’s history. They point to what is most essential – ultimately to that which is to come. What is disconcerting, however, is that while the festivals and holidays go on being celebrated, their content has become so trite, so dull and superficial. Most people today would rather not think of them and cannot do so without a certain feeling of boredom. Listening to great truths and great events, and not allowing them to penetrate our hearts or overwhelm us with their force, deadens. It causes our consciences to become calloused.
This is tragic. For that which is to come – he who is to come – cannot really be explained in words. For those who wait, that which is to come is something that pulses through one’s subconscious and unconscious being; it is an atmosphere and wave of light that reaches down to us. The feeling that goes forth from the power of what is to come cannot be described.
God’s kingdom is thus a prophetic mystery. The mystery of that which is to come makes one’s heart tremble in powerful joy and worship, in innermost awe and resolute readiness. That which awaits the world when it comes, when he comes, is something of immense importance. Christ’s true greatness is that he is coming. Without this final future the whole of Christian faith would really be nothing.
If only our hearts were completely gripped by this! Surely, in light of what is wrong in today’s world, we should all stretch out our hands toward that which is to come, so that at last the world may be redeemed from all its horrors and the dawn of the new day may break. We are placed on this earth in order to proclaim, in the midst of the heaviest darkness, this message: The Morning Star has risen in my heart, in our hearts, and soon will rise over the whole of the darkened world. Repent! Believe in the gospel! He who is coming is near!
Adapted from When the Time Was Fulfilled (Walden, NY: Plough, 2007).
Article edited for length and clarity. Read the original in our digital archive: meeting transcript, December 1, 1934.