In Traditional worship, the hymns we sing during Advent often reflect our mutual longing for Jesus’ second Advent. We yearn for the day when Jesus returns and all is made right in the world. This morning we sang, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” with words written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The lyrics flow gently over the notes of Rowland H. Pritchard’s music, and it all comes together to express our shared dream of a day when Jesus will come and we will find rest and peace, when sin will have no hold on us.
It is a beautiful hymn, and I treasure the reminder in the first verse that Jesus is the hope of the whole world, the desire of every nation. God’s love extends beyond all man-made borders, lines and divisions. Perhaps it is time to think about how we are living that love. Do we really care about others in far away places? Does their lack of water, food and shelter bother us? We are not able to change the whole world, but doing even one thing is a start. For me, I am really thinking a lot these days about such things as eating what is in season, making purchases that use less packaging and using products that are cruelty free. Those are tiny things I know, but they can make a tiny difference in the world, and even a little bit helps.
In his book Why This Jubilee, James C. Howell relates a memory from a childhood Christmas at his grandparents’ home. The presents were unwrapped, everything was cleaned up, and his dad tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Son, let’s go. Christmas is over.” Howell writes that his dad’s words are some of the saddest he has ever heard. Later in the season, we will sing, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and in the final words, we will sing a prayer: “O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.” We, throughout the world, want God’s presence for more than a day or two, we want God to abide with us, stay with us always.
In Jesus, God stays with us, and invites us to join him in holy living while we wait. What is holy living for you and your family?