"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eyes shall see him,..." - Revelation 1:7
There has been much discussion about how we should greet one another during this time of quarantine. We typically would shake hands or give a quick hug to our church family. I was amused last Sunday to watch so many who would normally greet one another with a handshake or hug, awkwardly walk by one another with an air high five or elbow bump! Yesterday, two of our pastoral staff touched shoes when they met in place of a handshake!
The early church, when they would meet, would greet one another by saying "Maranatha." The word "maranatha" is a Syriac expression that means: "our Lord comes." It was used as a greeting in the early church. When believers gathered or parted, they didn't say "hello" or "goodbye" but "Maranatha!" Maybe this was in place of a handshake, hug, or a forced no touch policy due to plague?
This greeting was much more than just an expression it was a conviction! The early church really believed something: Jesus could come again today! If we had the same upward look today, it would revolutionize the church. O that we as God's people would have a conviction and awareness of the imminent return of the Savior!
While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, he tried to return for them, but huge icebergs blocked the way. One day, as if by a miracle, the ice passage opened in and Shackleton was able to narrowly get his ship through. His men were ready and waiting. They quickly scrambled aboard and began their voyage to safety. As they looked back at Elephant Island, they saw the passage way begin to narrow and eventually close all together!
Contemplating their narrow escape, Shackleton said to his men, "It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!" They replied, "We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, 'The boss may come today.'"
The hymn writer Horatius Bonar exhorted us "to be ready for the last moment by being ready at every moment...so attending to every duty that, let Him come when He may, He finds the house in perfect order, awaiting His return."
The trumpet may sound anytime! How important for us as Christians to be "packed and ready to go! "As you greet fellow believers, don't shake their hand, don't hug their neck today -- say "Maranatha!"