In the Comparative Religion course, there is also the story of the "return" of the central figure: the return of Krishna (when there is unbelief), of Jesus, of the Imam Mahdi (and Jesus with him), and the return of Buddha (the "fifth Buddha", I believe). Many Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah was the return of Christ. This is the subject of William Sears 's book THIEF IN THE NIGHT and it is also covered in BAHA'LLAH AND THE NEW ERA by John Esslemont. A very interesting take on Baha'u'llah (and the return of Christ) is found in the Baha'is Under the Provision of the Covenant which says that the "returned Christ" must be a Davidic King. The BUPC has an online website. I believe (though I'm not sure) that Swedenborg taught that Christ returned in the New Church.
I am reminded, too, of the story of God's "chosen" people. I am mainly aware of this in Judaism and Christianity, but Rev. Moon said that the people of Korea were "God's chosen." I liked his teaching on the return of Jesus, that Jesus came as a fulfillment of prior religions, to establish an international movement. Jesus did not accomplish this, so the Messiah was yet to come. I think the idea of the Messiah has changed in Judaism, and I have wondered what the concept is among progressive or secular Jews. It wouldn't seem that they would see the Messiah as one person to solve everybody's problems. Perhaps they see the messianic ideal as being shared by all people.
An interesting take on the "return" of a deity, or its manifestation, is the story of Miki in Tenrikyo, who I believe believe became the embodiment of a deity.
Joel Bjorling, MATS, M.Div., DD