Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? A plane? Could it be "Superman"? No, it's a Lamb who appears to have been slain. Yes, now I see: it's Jesus Christ, the faithful martyr, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth.
I cannot prove it, but I'm pretty sure "coming with the clouds" is a metaphor. Christ will return enrobed in the mysterious splendor and awesome majesty of his Father -- the same God who spoke to Moses in clouds and thunder on Mount Sinai.
Will we, like the Israelites of old, cower in fear when he comes again? Will we be filled with remorse and regret? Perhaps. But John assures us that Christ comes with a greeting of grace and peace. His wounds are a sign of his love for us. He offers to set us free from our sins. He invites us to serve in his everlasting kingdom. Can it get any better?
O Lord, how shall we meet thee? How welcome thee aright? Your appearance surprises us, confuses us, startles us. Even through the darkest clouds, help us to sense your grace and peace. Amen.
Revelation 1:4-8 (NRSV)
4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."