Do you remember the breathless anticipation for Christmas as a kid? It starts months before Christmas when the weather starts getting colder and the pulse quickens because Christmas is a little closer. It builds to a deafening crescendo on Christmas Eve when kids struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep because exhilaration has taken over.
I can’t help but wonder what would it take to grow in anticipation, not just of the day we celebrate when Jesus first came, but looking forward to the day when Christ comes again. It’s not that we turn our back on this life and this world. Not at all. If anything we engage them more fully. But what would happen if we are filled with hope and longing of the new world ushered in when Christ returns.
The early Christians had a word that summed up this longing. We encounter it in 1 Cor. 16:22 and see it in other ancient Christian writings. It’s an Aramaic phrase, Maranatha. It means “Come, Lord.” It is a prayer. A hope. A heart’s cry. It’s built on the belief that Jesus will complete his new creation. Christ, as Paul celebrates in Colossians 1, will reconcile all things. That is, he will restore all that he has made to right relationship. The closing of Revelation (and all of scripture) sums up the hope this way. “And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new (Rev. 21:5).'” What things? All Things! “A new heaven and a new earth” (21:1).
I suspect that the more we make Maranatha our prayer, the more we will be filled not just with greater hope, but more determined purpose. When we pray it, we start to live it. We work for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven as we await the day when our faith becomes sight.