"Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee, Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear desire of ev'ry nation, joy of ev'ry longing heart. — ELW #254, Verse1

Blessings to you as we begin this Advent season. Advent marks the beginning of the church year — a time when we join our hearts in hopeful anticipation of our Lord's coming, both as a baby born in a lowly manager as well as Christ's return as the end of time. The scripture we hear proclaimed in worship this month speak to both of these events. We will hear Old Testament prophets preparing the way for the Messiah and New Testament evangelists calling upon us to remain patient and steadfast in the Gospel until we are reunited with Jesus in this world. Together we pray, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus!

For many people waiting is neither easy nor glamorous. Even before Thanksgiving we were hearing Christmas music played in stores and on the radio. Traveling plans to be with loved ones for Christmas were made weeks or months in advance. Many Christmas trees and lights appeared in our neighborhoods the day after Thanksgiving. But, there is virtue in waiting. There is virtue in taking the time to prepare our hearts and minds for God's gift of Jesus.

Don't worry, I'm not suggesting that we take down the lights and trees. There is nothing wrong with being excited for Christmas! Simply remember that this time of excitement has a name — Advent — and it is the opportunity for us to slow down, reflect, and prepare for the gift we are about to receive.

How do you observe Advent in your home? Growing up my family had a small Advent wreath on our dining room table that we lit each evening before supper. A daily devotion was read at the same time. We also bought an Advent calendar each year with little flaps revealing pieces of chocolate for each day. I cherish those childhood memories.

In our sanctuary the parakeets this season are blue, the color of hope. The Advent wreath is a beautiful symbol that accompanies us in our journey through this season. Week by week as we continue to light more candles our sanctuary becomes brighter as the days become shorter. We are reminded of our progress in our pilgrimage to Bethlehem to meet the Christ child. We eagerly await the completion of time when Christ's light will shine brightly throughout the world.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. The world is in great need of you. Our hope and trust is in you. Help us prepare to greet anew this Christmas. Amen.

Blessings to you this Advent, and I wish you a very merry Christmas!

Pastor Nathan

As early as the Middle Ages Christians used fire and light to represent Christ's coming into the world Using this same symbolism, the Advent wreath developed a few centuries ago in Germany as a sign of the waiting and hopeful expectation of the return in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wreath, a circle, came to represent the eternal victory over death through Jesus Christ. The evergreens were a sign of the faithfulness of God to God's people, even in death, and the lighted candles were a reminder of the light of Christ brought into the world. Source:

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