Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending 4
Now Redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet him in the air.
See the day of God appear!
Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending,” uses events of the past to remind us who we are in our faith, to set a vision of what the future holds and to state who God is. It was first published in John Wesley’s book Hymns of Intercessions for All Mankind. The book’s title page includes a scriptural reference from 1 Timothy 2:1, “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks, be made for all men.” (KJV)
Do you find it hard to stay in the moment and be truly present with the task or people in front of you? I often find this difficult, as I constantly remember the “already” and dream about “the not yet.” This is normal; our past informs who we are, and our hopes for the future define the choices we make today. As communities of Christians, we follow a liturgical year that is a constant ebb and flow of waiting and celebrating and waiting again. Starting with the season of
Advent, we await the coming of the Christ-child; we celebrate Christmas, which includes waiting for the Epiphany, which leads us to Lent and the preparations for Holy Week, in which we know what will happen, but we wait nonetheless.
And so it is, in the midst of this ebb and flow, we find that the singing of hymns is a powerful tool that keeps us in the moment, using images of the past to shape our communal hopes for the future. The fourth verse of this week’s hymn speaks to us of the hope we have that, even where we are rejected for His sake, we will one day encounter the fullness of the redemption we have in Jesus when He returns. He will gather His faithful from their struggle and suffering. It reminds me of the Hospel reading from the first Sunday in Advent:
“And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” (Mark 13:26-27, RSV)
I invite you to pray with me today: Lord, come pronto! Pronto vieno, Jesus Cristo!