Great Expectations   1 comment

Above:  Second Coming Icon


1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (The Jerusalem Bible):

I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, together with brother Sosthenes, send greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ, who are called to take their place among the saints everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ; for he is their Lord no less than ours.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ.  I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

Psalm 145:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

Every day I will bless you

and praise your Name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

there is no end to his greatness.

4 One generation shall praise your works to another

and shall declare your power.

I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty

and all your marvelous works.

They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts,

and I will tell of your greatness.

They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;

they shall sing of your righteous deeds.

Matthew 24:42-51 (The Jerusalem Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.  You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.  Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

What kind of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give him their food at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.  I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time,” and sets about beating his fellow servants and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.  The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.


The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 16:  Thursday, Year 1:

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:


The sources I have consulted date the composition of 1 Corinthians to Fall 53-Winter 54 C.E.  Paul and many other early Christians expected that Jesus would return very shortly–probably within their lifetimes.  This fact functions as invaluable context for much of the Pauline tradition.  Why did Paul not advocate the abolition of slavery, for example?  Maybe it was because of the expectation that God would take care of such details quite soon.

Paul did, however, advocate remaining active in communal life (1 Thessalonians 5:14) while living in watchfulness for the parousia of Jesus.  Furthermore, as we read in the introduction to 1 Corinthians, Paul encouraged his fellow Christians to be “steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus had not returned by 85 C.E.  The first generation of Christians was almost entirely dead, the Temple at Jerusalem was gone, and the Roman Empire was firmly in control.  Old expectations had not predicted the new reality.  In that context, “Matthew” told his congregation that

the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

So one ought not, “Matthew” says, mistake the Lord’s perceived tardiness as an excuse to shirk one’s duty.

As I write these words in late 2011, expect to die (whenever that will happen) without witnessing the parousia.  It has been almost two thousand years since the original expectations.  Yet the advice from Paul and “Matthew” remain germane to me:  I have work to do–skills and talents to use for the common good and  a life to live for the glory of God.  There are people to whom I ought to reach out.  God will attend to matters of prophesy; I have people to love int he name of God.  This is the work of all of us who claim the label “Christian.”  May we never shirk that duty.






Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 10, 2011

Adapted from this post:


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  1. Pingback: Week of Proper 16: Thursday, Year 2 « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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