Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus // Advent: An Invitation to Hope

Dec
03

Advent and the arrival of Hope and Goodness into the world makes my heart sing. So this year, we are taking a closer look at some of my favorite Advent hymns. Each Sunday during Advent 2017, check back on EverydayGrace.net to find a new post and a new song, which I hope will fill you with the joy of Christ’s birth. Press play above while you read, sink into hope and rest awhile. This Advent season, let’s remember Who we wait for and sing Him into our world together.

.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free…

Oh, Jesus, how badly we need You.

Things are so broken, and we have done so much of the breaking ourselves. Racism. Sexual assault. Injustice. Allowing people into power who brag about assaulting women and children. We buy and sell one another. We turn our eyes away from  oppression of the marginalized and thus we participate in it. We have a general lack of empathy, especially for those who are different from us.

.

From our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee…

It seems like the world is more on fire every day. New stories of violence, corruption, disaster seem to crop up every minute. Maybe we are rounding up kiddos or slogging through finals, maybe we are finding our feet in a new career or bracing ourselves for a holiday season of aloneness. Then, on top of the pile, there is another horrible thing happening in the world and it just feels like. So. Much. We are afraid, overwhelmed, and in deep need of healing rest. Can everything awful just stop for like a minute and a half, so we can catch our breath and maybe take a nap? (I deal with things a lot better after a nap.) But…it doesn’t stop. The onslaught of terribleness keeps coming.

.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art…

Advent in the liturgical calendar is the time set aside for us to remember and expectantly wait for Jesus. Right about now, I could use a reminder that while the awfulness doesn’t stop coming, there is Someone else who is coming, too.

There goes another news story that breaks my heart, but Transformation is almost here. 

The way we treat one another makes me weep bitter tears, but Justice is on His way. 

I am so heavy with all the things I’m carrying, but Love is on the move. 

Everything is so deeply broken and I am so aware of all the ways in which I cannot fix it, but Revolution is coming and His name is Emmanuel – God with us. 

.

Dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart…

I remember the day several years ago when I learned that Jesus was probably not actually born on December 25. Using Biblical clues, scholars estimate His birth to have taken place around the Jewish feast of Sukkot, which would put it in September/October. This blew my mind. Jesus wasn’t born into a chilly, picturesque winter scene with lovely snowflakes falling all around? I remember reading that during this holiday of Sukkot, people pitch tents in their backyards and live in them to remind themselves that this world is only our temporary home, and we are just passing through. Some folks might find the ephemerality of our little lives to be a fearful and unsettling thing, but this idea flooded me with so much hope. It means that all the junk in this world won’t stick. It means our true home is somewhere none of this ugliness can reach. And yet, Jesus chose to show up here, right into the middle of our mess, rather than to whisk us away somewhere perfect. Maybe He was teaching us that the answer to ugliness is not to run from it, but to dig right in and try to heal it. To transform it. Isn’t it so fitting that His birth may have actually been in the fall? The season of change may have ushered in the incredible birth of the Man who would change all of human history.

.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King…

Yet, I don’t think it matters when the birth of Jesus happened as much as that it happened. It’s actually kind of beautiful that a mix of politics and religious goofiness ended up shuffling the Christmas celebration to the middle of winter, when the world is cloaked in cold and dark and reminds us how badly we miss warmth and sun. The shining truth of Advent hiding underneath the snow is that, in the middle of our darkness, Love is coming. 

.

Born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring…

Long-expected Love has come to break chains, rearrange hierarchies, and interrupt us. What are we entrenched in that we need to rise up out of? What are we holding tight to that He would have us let go? What are we resisting that Love is whispering we need to let in?

.

By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone…

When everything has been so deeply broken for so long, it can be easy to believe the lie that this is just the way things are. But don’t you believe it. The King is coming to change everything. Let this Advent season, this season of waiting for Him, remind us that we are not waiting in vain. Hope was born in a barn 2,000 years ago in a way nobody expected and He is coming back for you and for me, and for everybody. He is coming back to turn all our brokenness upside down. Hallelujah. 

.

By thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne. 

So when the world is on fire, we run back to the One who has promised to one day put it out. I still believe He can heal all of it and give us peace in the meanwhile. Come, Lord Jesus. Come and heal our brokenness. We have made such a mess and we need You. We know You will show up for us, and we are so grateful.

-c

.

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 every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Hymn: Charles Wesley

Arrangement: Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken

Share: Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

3 Responses to Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus // Advent: An Invitation to Hope

  1. So Beautiful! I loved the section for “Israel’s strength and consolation,
    hope of all the earth thou art…” That would make a beautiful graphic!

  2. Fantastic! thank you for going through hymns and breaking them down into applicable bits! I’ve always enjoyed Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, and you’ve brought fresh meaning to it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *