Written by Bishop Mark Engel
The Reigning King’s Advent Question
November 21, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I begin this Advent reflection by wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. (Psalm 50:23)
Yesterday’s celebration of Christ the King Sunday was truly special for me. I had the joyous privilege of ordaining Fr. Aaron Rowley to the presbyterate at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Hudson, OH. (Please be sure to greet Fr. Aaron with a congratulatory message!) Saint Matthew records Jesus’ own words telling us what to expect when, not if, He returns.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
then he will sit on his glorious throne."
Professor Haddon W. Robinson is purported to have said, “If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pews.” May our Advent worship and preaching be filled with the certainty of Christ’s return!
However, the certainty of Christ’s second advent does come with a question. A question posed by the Returning King himself.
"Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
This query from Jesus’ own lips comes amid his teaching on the importance of persistence in prayer. It comes on the back end of a powerful promise.
"And will God not give justice to His elect, who cry to him day and night?
Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily."
Luke 18:7, 8a
The wear of the world tempts us to feel that the Lord’s justice is not so speedy. It is vital that we celebrate weekly the reality that by Jesus saving work “the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11) and “…cast out.” (John 12:31) In remembering that “By his resurrection he broke the bonds of death, trampling Hell and Satan under his feet” we find fresh boldness to proclaim the Mystery of Faith.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
In St. Luke’s gospel, Jesus continues his teaching on prayer with a parable about humility (Luke 18:9-14) followed by a live example of the need for childlikeness to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 18:15-17).
This Advent season, may we receive a fresh touch of God’s grace granting us persistence, humility, and childlikeness in prayer. May God infuse our prayer with boldness, confidence, and clarity that our Reigning King is coming again! May it be true of us, by God’s grace, that when he comes again, he will find faith in us.
Let us pray.
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid:
Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light;
that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father
in spirit and truth [with persistence, humility, and childlikeness];
through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father
in eternal union. Amen.
(BCP 2019, #97)
Your servant for Jesus' sake,