Celebrating Advent: Week 1

Brandon Booth
Brandon Booth
November 30, 2021

The four weeks prior to Christmas are known as Advent. It is traditionally a time of preparation and reflection on both the incarnation and the eventual end of all suffering when Jesus returns in glory and completes the work of restoration and recreation.

Personally, I love the hymns of Advent. In my opinion, they are some of the most beautiful of all. So, for the next four Tuesdays I’m going to share with you some of my enthusiasm. I’ll send you a selection from a hymn I love along with a little reflection on it.  

This week I have selected 3 verses from, "O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?" by Paul Gerhardt (1653), and translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).

O Lord, how shall I meet you,
How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you,
my hope, my heart's delight.
O kindle, Lord most holy
Your lamp within my breast
To do in spirit lowly
All that may please you best.

It never ceases to amaze me how lightly and quickly I can sing words like this! How should I meet the Lord when comes? 

I mean, that's easy enough to answer. I should be pure and humble. I should be doing all that he asks of me with grateful joy. But chances are he won't find me like that. So how can I say "[I] long to greet you, my hope, my heart's delight."? And yet:

Love caused your incarnation;
love brought you down to me.
Your thirst for my salvation
procured my liberty.
Oh, love beyond all telling
that led you to embrace
in love, all love excelling,
our lost and fallen race!

God thirsts for our salvation. Let that image sink in for a moment!

What can stop Jesus from coming to rescue his beloved? Nothing! Love compelled him to set aside his divinity and become one flesh with me! So, yes, I do long to greet him! He is my heart’s hope and delight! And I can sing the final verse with gusto:

He comes to judge the nations,
a terror to his foes,
a light of consolation
and blessèd hope to those
who love the Lord's appearing.
O glorious Sun, now come,
send forth your beams most cheering,
and guide us safely home.

Come quickly Lord Jesus! And may God give you a blessed Advent season!
Listen to this hymn here and here

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