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Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

During Advent, many congregations sing the beautiful hymn “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” For good reason. The hymn speaks of our desire to be set free from our fears and sins while also expressing a need for Jesus, the “joy of every longing heart.”

When evening falls on Dec. 24, Advent will finally give way to Christmas, a time when many of us will gather for Christmas Eve worship services at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., or 9:00 p.m. to celebrate and give thanks for the Christ child’s birth.

There is no doubt that many people presumed that the Messiah would overthrow the Roman oppressors and restore Israel’s power through military might, while others hoped for a royal Messiah who would restore the glory of King David’s lineage.

“But as the prophets warned,” notes author and speaker Mary Elizabeth Sperry, “God’s ways are not our ways.” God is not bound by human expectations. And though we cling to the promise that God continues to come to us today, be prepared to be caught off guard. Rest assured, God will come, but more often in unanticipated and surprising ways, coming to us not in power and might, but more often in the ordinary, routine, and unexpected.

Instead of coming to us as an all-conquering hero, Jesus’ entry into history could not have been more modest. Who would think of looking for a Messiah in a stable? Only a few lowly shepherds and sign readers from the East even noticed.

Christmas is not really Jesus' birthday at all,” writes pastor and theologian David Lose, “rather, it is ours. Christmas is … the day we celebrate our birth as children of God, the keeping of all God's promises, and the beginning of the restoration of all creation.”

The heart of the Christmas story is the Incarnation, a living and evolving tale of God’s ongoing activity in our lives and our world. As the ancient saying reminds us, “The wood of the manger becomes the wood of the cross.”

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever …

With warmest wishes for a blessed Christmas!
Pastor Jon

Tags: Weekly Word