James A. Cress was the General Conference Ministerial Secretary when he wrote this article.

For Adventists to celebrate the 75th anniversary of any venture seems incongruous with our name. Although personally pleased with Ministry's continuing contribution as we reach our publication's diamond jubilee, my Seventh-day Adventist heritage leads me to apologize more than congratulate.

Our Lord's delay forces both a theological and practical challenge for every believer in the eschaton. From those first century believers who anticipated a quick parousia to early Adventists who mistakenly established a date for the second coming, we have struggled with short-term planning and dashed dreams as we have postponed projects or closed the coffin on beloved friends and family members.

Seventy-five years ago, Ministry's first issue emphasized our confidence in the soon return of Jesus. Sixty years ago my parents entered ministry confident that Jesus would return long before they would grow old or wait in the grave. Thirty years ago, Sharon and I eagerly began our pastoral ministry with no sense of need to plan for a retirement we would never reach. Proclaiming our confidence in the surety of Jesus' coming took precedence over His counsel to "occupy till I come." "After all," we and hundreds of other pastoral couples reasoned, "the church will always care for its retirees if the Lord delays."

We actively proclaimed the nearness of Jesus' return by citing texts enumerating end times characterized by chaos among governments, collapse of families in the midst of moral and societal deterioration, upheaval in nature, proliferation of disease and disasters, and compromise by spiritual leadership. Oh, and don't forget Scriptures strongest warnings against the multiplication of independent ministries which attempt to draw away disciples after themselves.

Somehow, as Lisbon's earthquake, the dark day, and falling stars faded into history's recesses, their indications of immediacy of the second coming were less persuasive than the reality of their importance as signals of transition from the dark ages to the time of the end.

When church's growth demanded expansion and renewal, "Should the Lord delay His coming," became code to explain the necessity of long-range plans, expanding facilities, or even renovation buildings which critics suspect should never have been constructed in the first place. Living squarely between what Charles Bradford terms the "ought" and the "is," the church ought to be in the kingdom, but is still here on earth. Even now we seem unwilling or incapable of planning beyond the next quinquennium a global strategy to "finish the work" because it might be perceive as lack of confidence in Christ's near return.

Too often, those who struggle with the issues of delay are labeled liberal because they seek understanding beyond rote repetition of answers developed by Uriah Smith. Self-styled "historical" Adventists brand any who differ with their particular theological interpretation as heretics even as they prey on the nostalgia of thousands to support fiercely independent ventures.

Both as an individual believer and as an Adventist pastor, I long for the culmination of our blessed hope! I believe in the literal, visible, personal, and imminent return of Jesus and pray that it will occur in my lifetime. My confident proclamation is predicated on personal study and earnest desire to help others prepare for His coming.

My most powerful sermons focus on Jesus' return. One year I preached a twelve-sermon series, the last Sabbath of each month, on the second coming. After all, we are Adventists because of the Advent. Beginning the next year, my elders asked me to continue. "Preach the same sermons over again, Pastor."

I do not scornfully ask "Where is the promise of His coming?" Even though our Heavenly Father has failed to follow the time line I might have devised. Instead, I pray for patient comprehension of the New Testament which always places the delay in terms of God's infinite love, patience, and unwillingness to see any sinner perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Even as I affirm my confidence in the future and my gratitude for God's providences in the past, I am called upon to live in the present. Even in the midst of traumatic, troubled times, we live in the kingdom of grace while we long for the kingdom of glory.

To paraphrase Barry Oliver's outstanding affirmation, "Just as we eagerly look forward to the future of Jesus coming, we gratefully look up to the present reality of His grace which opens heaven for us now." Lively hope anticipates the future. Living faith endures the present.

Revelation concludes with the cry of the lonely heart, "Even so, come quickly" coupled with the reality of preparatory waiting, "and the grace of your Lord and Savior, be with you all."

Jesus wants to return even more than I want Him to. Hurry up and wait!