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Johnny Cash fans will pick up the reference to his powerful song ‘The man comes around’, which is full of Apocalyptic imagery. The Church Fathers had their reasons to doubt whether the Apocalypse of St John should be included in the Canon. It is so clearly a vision that to take it, as some do, literally, is to run great risks. As with all great poetry, it carries a charge which carries its reader away. It speaks to the longing in so many of us for the Second Coming. If the end-times are to be marked by wars and rumours of wars, and by fallings away from the faith, then in every age there has been reason to think the end is night. Well, if we believe our Bible, then that day will come, but none save the Father knows when, so it is barren and unprofitable for us to think we can predict it.

Christians know, as though by instinct, that we are not fully creatures of this world, that we are meant for a better one, but we should recall that when Christ comes again and when all the dead rise and are judged, then we shall dwell here, and our bodies will not be purely spiritual. That might make us think again, not about our attachment to this world, but rather about our place in it – for we are to be the yeast in the bread-mix – we are the salt to add savour. We are not here to preach, for the most part, we are here to kneel in prayer, we are here so that we can add witness. So we might ask what witness we give to the hope that is in us?

He will come again once day, and then we shall see Him face to face. We know that we are unworthy, but He has called all to salvation in His holy name. He has loved us – can we so unbend that we will respond. As Johnny Cash noted, the wise virgins trim their wicks – can we do the same? If none knoweth the hour, then we should act as though it was tonight that the man will come around.