As the month of November begins we anticipate the end of the Christian year. Each cycle of the Christian year ends on Christ the King Sunday and begins with the season of Advent. This year, Christ the King Sunday falls on November 24, 2013. The first Sunday of Advent begins on the 1st of December.
What hymns should we sing at the beginning of the Christian year? We begin with the season of Advent: a season that calls us to prepare for the first and the second coming of Christ.
The first coming refers to the “Word made flesh.” It is a season to celebrate the incarnation of Christ. The second coming refers to the “consummation of all things in Christ at the end of time.” The answer to the question “What should we sing?” will depend on what we want to focus on: the first or the second coming.
Here is a new hymn, “View the Present through the Promise”, that focuses on the second coming. However, it keeps the singer immersed in the present.
The author, Thomas Troeger, calls the singer to action: 1) View the present through, 2) probe the present with, and 3) match the present to the promise.
Troeger leads the singer to think about the realities of the present and deal with them, bearing in mind the promise of hope: “Christ will come again.”
To understand this promise, we ought to read alongside God’s stories and the themes surrounding the season of Advent. For example, the prophecies in the Old Testament especially by Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2, 11:1-3; 40:3, 59:9, 60:1-3, 19); John the Baptist’s (Mark 1:1-8) and Jesus’ warning (Mark 13:33-37) about being ready for the coming of God’s reign; and the story of Mary (Luke 1:26-38) who was to fulfil the prophecy in Isaiah.
These stories and themes (Watch, Wait, Be prepared, God is with us) provide us with a moment to reflect on Jesus’ coming and His power breaking through our lives. We ponder: How relevant is the promise to me today? Am I keeping watch? Am I prepared?
The Advent themes are presented in many hymns (see UMH 195-216, also www.hymnary.org). Let us explore these hymns and allow them to shape our minds for the present. As Thomas Troeger urges us: “Pattern all your calculating and the world you are creating to the advent you are waiting: Christ will come again.”
View the Present Through the Promise
View the present through the promise, Christ will come again.
Trust despite the deepening darkness, Christ will come again.
Lift the world above its grieving through your watching and believing In the hope past hope’s conceiving: Christ will come again.
Probe the present with the promise, Christ will come again.
Let your daily actions witness, Christ will come again.
Let your loving and your giving and your justice and forgiving Be a sign to all the living: Christ will come again.
Match the present to the promise, Christ will come again.
Make this hope your guiding premise, Christ will come again.
Pattern all your calculating and the world you are creating To the advent you are waiting: Christ will come again.
Judith Mosomos is Lecturer in Church Music at the Methodist School of Music and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.