A few days ago, I was at the funeral of a young Christian friend. Like all Christian funerals, amid grief, there was hope. In the hymns especially, we expressed our hope in both the present (she is with the Lord, which is far better), but also in the future (Jesus is coming back, and will put everything right). It’s that future dimension of hope that we’re focusing on in this issue of the Magazine.
Jonathan Stephen kicks us off by asking, with the Corinthians, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’, while John Woolley helps us to think through what the new heaven and the new earth will be like.
Don’t think that the second coming is just about theology, though. Maureen Wise challenges us to live in the light of Jesus’ return, and Janet Richards explains how hope in Christ keeps her going, even in illness, difficulties and sadness.
Living between Christ’s first and second coming brings its challenges. Patrick Johnstone (of Operation World fame) explores the links between Jesus’ Great Commission and the end of the age and challenges us to hasten Christ’s coming. John Funnell reminds us of the importance of distinguishing between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ as we enjoy what we already have but hope for more to come.
But are we prepared to meet with Christ? Mark Johnston has us consider that question, while Sheila Stephen reminds us of truths which will comfort those who are facing their own death or the death of a loved one.
As always, there’s much more, of course. Sarah Allen and Gwyn Davies guide us back in time to two forgotten figures of church history: Ellen Ranyard was a pioneer of women’s ministry, and Morgan Llwyd was a Welsh puritan thought variously as a hero or a heretic. Sarah Chan helps us to share Jesus with our Jewish neighbours, and I look at the Mount of Olives – which has got more to do with the second coming of Jesus than you might imagine!
So dive on in – but before you do, prepare to be challenged, and prepare to be thankful. Maranatha – come, Lord Jesus!