As Christians, we bear the light and allow it to shine through us so it may be offered to a world hungry for reconciliation and peace. We offer it to one another when times get rough and the waiting gets long. Sometimes, it gets so very long and can feel very desperate. Our response as Christians is not to brush the wait and darkness aside with simplistic answers and sound bite advice. We are not supposed to solve the problems others face but step into the darkness with others, offering the light we possess that Christ offered us. That is the participation we are called to during Christmas. O come, all you faithful ones.
The problem with assuming we know the details is that often reality differs significantly. Then it becomes easy to question our calling.
When Wesley prays, “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,” he is reminding us that our longing for Jesus is as old as the human heart.
Advent is primarily about looking through the baby in the manger to see Christ the King coming on the clouds in glory.
These hymns, like the psalms, come from or speak to different experiences – some quite specific, others more general – and they express a wide variety of feelings toward God, ranging from thanksgiving and adoration to supplication to bitter grief. The hymn I came upon that had a reference to Jesus weeping was under the heading of “For a Child in the Small-Pox.” In the midst of what would have been an agonizing time for the parents as they prayed through tears that God might bring healing to their child, Charles offered lyrics that help us to embrace this sort of grief and to not hold back in pouring out our hearts to God.
It took me a while to realize that I needed to sing the Old Testament so I was ready to sing the New. That is, we need to recognize how our world got lost; only then will we understand why God sent his Son to find it. I had to remember that we humans have needed Jesus from the time we stumbled out of Eden, and that our hearts have longed for him ever since Eve heard that her seed would crush the serpent’s head. When Wesley prays, “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,” he is reminding us that our longing for Jesus is as old as the human heart.
So, while we can and should sing of Christ’s return throughout the year, Advent presents a key opportunity to declare with clarity this crucial doctrine in our faith. And as Wesleyans we have a gem in Charles’ hymn, “Lo! He Comes With Clouds, Descending.”
Change happens, renewal and revival come not because we have designed it, or wanted it, or worked for it, but because God in his infinite grace and unfettered mercy, in his own time and according to his design, brings new life to persons, to congregations, to denominations, to movements, and ministries.
Over the past few months, having been to the cross, visited the empty tomb, and celebrated the Resurrection, let us now live in awareness of the sin for which we will never be crucified.
When I came back to this story of Jacob wrestling the stranger at the River Jabbok, I saw something that I had never noticed before. That is, Jacob is like Prometheus, in the Greek myth. Prometheus stole the fire from heaven and brought it down to human beings so that we could be like gods.