PSA: This is a spoiler free blog post.
Endgame: Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know what this lovely little contraction means. And if you’re anything like me and my family, you’ve already been to the theater at least once. In fact, if you’ve ever read my blog at all or listened to one of my sermons, you know I am a huge fan of comic books. And not just any comic books, but Marvel comics; you know, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, etc. And one of my favorite cultural gifts of living in the twenty-first century is that we are living in the golden era of comic book movies. It’s almost as if Hollywood said, “You know who we need to cater to? All those weird 30 and 40 something year old nerds.” And this last weekend marked the completion of a eleven-year saga for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as they released Avengers: Endgame. The anticipation my family and I had (well at least my 12-year-old and me) was off the charts. All of a sudden a story that we knew in part from the comics was about to be brought to an end. I’m not sure I slept much the night before.
Anticipation is a powerful thing. My kids get excited about upcoming birthdays. My wife will start packing for trips sometimes weeks ahead, but maybe that’s because a healthy dose of anticipation is necessary for traveling with a family of six. But anticipation, I believe, can often make the thing anticipated even greater. If you come to an event or happening with all this built up excitement and energy, and then you invest all that big excitement and energy into said event, then there really isn’t any way that you should be disappointed…of course maybe that’s just the eternal optimist in me speaking. However, sometimes I think our anticipation looks more like anxiety. I remember growing up and hearing about Christ’ second coming and always being nervous. Sometimes I would even go over to my grandmother’s house (she lived across the driveway) and if I didn’t find her quickly I would be scared that I missed the rapture. I’m not sure, though, that the coming of Christ is something that is ever meant to be seen through the lenses of fear. In fact, I think it’s something the church is called to rehearse over and over again.
The New Testament scriptures end with the writer of Revelation saying, “The one who bears witness to these things says, “Yes, I’m coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” – Revelation 22:20 And some translations even add the phrase “come quickly”. Now if you’re like me, you often look at the world around you and wish Jesus would come quickly and fix all the brokenness and hurt. You anticipate His return because it will be the cure-all for all the messed up things in the world. But what if we, as the church are called to rehearse, live out His coming again in anticipation in the now? I mean, after all the church is called the body of Christ. And we gather together through the power of the Holy Spirit. What if our presence here is Christ in flesh, Christ having come into the world? Hear me out. Christ will come again; I’m not denying this. But what if in the now we are called to live in such rich anticipation that each time we gather we become agents of transformation in a world that could really only be fixed by the coming of Christ? What if each time we met the world would know that His Kingdom is coming and His will is being done through us because this is why we gather? What if each time we prepared to assemble as a church we anticipated the movement so richly that we couldn’t help but be excited and amazed at what God did through us? What if we are already in the Endgame (see what I did there)? I think perhaps this is the type of anticipation we are all called to live with. After all, if one of us could get this excited for a nerd movie, think about what we could do if all of us we’re truly excited about what God can do through us.