I grew up in the Evangelical end of the Christian tradition. It is where my spiritual formation was, where I got my love for the ancient stories in scripture, where my love of hymns and potluck dinners came from, where I first became fascinated with the Jesus stories.
It’s also where I came to believe that we could change the world, that our individual actions could collectively shape and mold the world as it is into the world as God desires it to be. I still believe that.
I’m no longer in the Evangelical fold (They left me before I left them, but still) but there are lessons I learned there that stick with me.
As an Evangelical, I spent an inordinate amount of time believing that Jesus would be coming back at any moment.
After all, the Gospel of Mark says that “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And Jesus’s biggest fan Paul said “that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
So life was a lot about being ready for Jesus to come back. It could happen any day. They were not ready for him the first time, we would say, but when he comes back this time, we will be waiting.
I no longer believe there will be some second-coming, rapture type event where Jesus will descend from the sky and Christians will disappear. Partly because that is just shitty theology, but also because, well, I think Jesus has already come back.
I think Jesus came back in 1098 and died in the siege of Antioch at the hands of Crusaders.
I think Jesus came back in 1692 and was hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts.
I think Jesus came back in 1768 and died in the hull of a slave ship during the Middle Passage.
I think Jesus came back in 1859 and died being beaten by a slave owner somewhere in the South.
I think Jesus came back in 1939 and was on the ship of Jewish refugees the US turned away, and was one of the 250 from that boat who died in the Nazi death camps.
And I think Jesus came back earlier this week and is now in a detention camp, wondering where his mother is.
Actually, I think Jesus comes back damn near every day, and every single time we have the choice to welcome him and show that we were paying attention the first time.
Instead, we crucify him all over again.