The season of Advent is upon us once again as the church welcomes the start of the Liturgical Year. Spanning four Sundays before Christmas, Advent, which means “arrival” or “coming”, remembers the first arrival and the wait for the second coming of the Messiah who will come again to judge and destroy all wickedness and evil on earth.
This is akin to the thoughts surrounding the First Advent when the Jewish people longed for the coming of the Deliverer-Messiah who would deliver Israel from their bondage to Rome. Just as the faithful Jews who earnestly and anxiously waited for the emergence of the Messianic kingdom, we wait in joyful expectation of the Second Advent of the Risen Christ.
But having said that, how many of us are eagerly waiting for the return of our Lord? In this fast-paced world, we race through life too busy with things that do not matter and forget who and what we are really waiting for. Some of us find ourselves engaging in religious practices of attending Sunday worship and of saying grace before meals in a ritualistic manner, void of meaning.
Very much like the Jewish world before the first Christmas, we live in a world that is largely indifferent to its Creator. Some of us keep God at arm’s length and go for days without sensing His presence in our lives. Advent is a time when God can break into our lives and stir the stagnant water of our spiritual lives to revitalise us with a fresh outpouring of his Spirit.1
‘Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus’ was first published in 1744 in a small collection of 18 poems titled Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord written by Charles Wesley.2 Charles opened the hymn with the expectation of the time when Jesus will set us free from fears and sins (stanza 1) and continued with the Advent emphasis in stanza 2, “… born a child and yet a King.” The kingship of Jesus is not of this world; it is exercised in human hearts and lives.3
This Advent, let us not only remember the Messiah’s First Advent in Bethlehem, but also wait with great expectation for the Second Advent of Jesus Christ who reigns in our hearts and who will continue to reign in His kingdom to come.
1 Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2004), 38
2 Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, 1990), 347.
3 Frank Colquhoun, A Hymn Companion: Insight into Three Hundred Christian Hymns (Wilton: Morehouse Barlow,1985), 55.
Dr Yeo Teck Beng is Principal of the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.