December 2015 / January 2016 - Vol. 83
walking in the shadow of the cross
. The Day Draws Near
“Let us encourage one another to love and good deeds
...and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”
– Hebrews 10:24-25

In this issue
This issue focuses on how we should live together as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ – especially in light of his coming again. The writer to the Hebrews links fervor in brotherly and sisterly love, mutual help and mutual encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25) with the Day of the Lord drawing near – his return in glory as Judge and Ruler. The Day of the Lord will disclose who and what I have loved and devoted my life to most – serving and promoting myself or putting God and the welfare of my brothers and sisters in Christ first in my care and concern. 

The Apostle Peter uses the thought of the second coming to urge people to fervent love and mutual hospitality (1 Peter 4:8–9). The Apostle Paul commands that all things be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14) Maran atha "the Lord is at hand" (1 Corinthians 16:22). He says that our forbearance must be known to all because the "Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:5). The Greek New Testament word translated as forbearance is epieikēs, which means the spirit that is more ready to offer forgiveness than to demand justice. 

The New Testament is sure that in view of the second coming of the Lord Jesus we must have our personal relationships right with our brothers and neighbors. The New Testament urges that we should never end a day with an unhealed rift between ourselves and another person, in case the Lord Jesus should come in the night.

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, bears witness to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who brings people together in close bonds of mutual love and care for one another in community.

God seems pleased to call together in Christian communities people who, humanly speaking, are very different, who come from very different cultures, classes and countries. The most beautiful communities are created from just this diversity of people and temperaments. This means that each person must love the others with all their differences, and work with them for the community… They are signs of God. We might have chosen different people… but these are the ones God has given us, the ones he has chosen for us. It is with them that we are called to create unity and live a covenant. We choose our own friends, but in our families, we do not choose our brothers and sisters; they are given to us. So it is in community life. (quote from Community and Growth, by Jean Vanier)

As we move into a season of preparation (Advent) for the celebration of Christmas and a new year of God's grace and mercy, let's ask the Lord Jesus to fill our hearts with the fire of his love and to renew within each of us the fruits of the Holy Spirit – “up-building love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, forbearance, forgiveness, and harmony” (Galatians 5:22-23) and so many other qualities that bind us together as families and communities in God's covenant love.

Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager

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