We mortals spend much of our lives hoping for a better future. We’ll be happy when we have more money, more time, more energy, more anything. From a religious point of view, hope is generally in the distant future. Hope for life after death. Hope for the Second Coming.
For 2,000 years, Christians have anticipated the literal return of Jesus to rule upon the earth in peace. Religionists have tried to forecast the exact time, making imaginative calculations based on Daniel’s apocalyptic vision. Joseph Smith asked the Lord to pinpoint the time of the Second Coming, but received an ambiguous answer. Generations of Mormons since Joseph have maintained the time is very near—possibly within their own lifetimes. Evangelical Christians harbor the same expectation.
Bible scholar Marcus Borg offers a different approach to anticipating Jesus’s return. In his book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Borg suggests that Jesus can return at any time to believers. He specifically mentions during the Eucharist (LDS Sacrament), in celebrating Christmas, and at other times when we experience the Spirit of Christ. Borg’s metaphorical expansion of the Second Coming of Christ to include individual moments in the present applies Christian hope to our own time and place.
From Borg’s perspective, Jesus returns at those moment we seek out and sit by a lonely person at a church meeting or social, the moments we speak up for those of different color or customs, the moments we replace envy with happiness for a person who gets a better job than ours, the moments we push aside pride to listen to views opposing our own. At these moments, Jesus returns.