It was quite late on a Sunday evening, many years ago when I first hear Jonny Cash’s epic and apocalyptic song “When the man comes around” on the radio.
And I was transfixed.
Cash’s voice resonating in every bone of my body. The images of “end times” as understood in the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel narratives; full of symbolism, mystery, judgement, hope of a new world…when “the man”, Christ, returns.
Truth be told, every time I hear the song, I still get goosebumps as Cash sings of the end times with the awe and reverence of what it means to wait for “…Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come”.
Goosebumps. Maybe rightly so.
As a new Church year begins in terms of her liturgical praxis.
As we await for the Babe born at Christmas,
We remember and maybe long for “the Man”, “the Son of Man” indeed, to “come around”.
Do please read this week’s Gospel reading prayerfully and let the goosebumps appear should they need too….
The Gospel Reading.
25-26 “It will seem like all hell has broken loose—sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.
27-28 “And then—then!—they’ll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style—a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!”
29-33 He told them a story. “Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter. When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that summer is right around the corner. The same here—when you see these things happen, you know God’s kingdom is about here. Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.
34-36 “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.”
I am an absolute “shocker” when it comes to waiting. Ask my good wife. I am easily distracted, bored, fidgety. Waiting for me does not come easy I must confess, yet remains a core life skill/habit I do need to practice and always, always grow into.
Because, it’s in the waiting, it’s in the preparation, it’s in the occasional turmoil and heartbreak of life or the anticipation of joy and renewal that I, (we) understand the nuances and mystery of life and faith.
To wait, open, hopeful, (somehow amidst what might seemingly crush us) is to strangely be in the now. In the moment.
And sometimes, waiting is all we can do.
At other seasons of our life, preparing, being active is all we can do, is all we should do. Being ready. “On guard” as Christ advises, not allowing our focus to slip through distractions. As, someday, Christ “the Son of Man” will (we as Christian believers understand) return “…in grand style” (Luke 21 v 27).
Waiting in the now. Preparing in the now. Keeping focused in the now. Minimizing distraction in the now.
When the Christ returns,
We feel every goosebump.