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.
Those first lines from the hymn by Charles Wesley bring a sense of hope in a chaotic world. During the advent season we emphasize the hope we have in the original coming of Christ, as we prepare and await his coming again. I wonder though if we really do live in constant expectation, or if we only allow ourselves to reflect and ponder it at certain times while all the rest of our days are spent going about our normal everyday tasks.
I experienced this reality just a few Sunday’s ago as I was sitting in the living room resting. Having just gotten off the phone with my Dad for quick chat, the phone rang again just moments later and it was my Mum, I assumed she wanted to comment on the conversation I had just had with Dad or have a laugh but instead she said there was a bit of bad news. They had just received a call that my Dad’s sister Aunt Florrie had passed away suddenly earlier that morning. I was in shock, to the point of clarifying which Aunt Florrie, though I have only one. Even though we know that we will all face death one day, and no matter whether it is sudden or a result of known sickness we never really expect it when it comes.
With the news of her death, I feel regret; regret in knowing that I did not always make the effort to spend time with that side of the family, at least as much as I should. Regret that I have spent the better part of my life living as though I have all the time in the world to do whatever it is I need to do in my own life.
Advent however is about hope, not regret.
In Matthew 24 Jesus reminds his listeners that the time when the Son of Man will come again will be like the time of Noah. He will come at a time when people are caught up in normal everyday activity, sweeping in just as the flood did, while everyone lives going about their day to day lives. Many will be caught off guard.
Jesus is talking about being prepared, being ready, being awake because on this day when we least expect it that his triumphant kingdom is going to burst into our world un-announced. Knowing the truth, we his followers are invited to live through active, expectant, exciting, and hopeful faith.
Wesley’s hymn starts off in hope, and ends in victory:
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!