Happy New Year!
Well, here we are at the beginning of the year … the Christian year, that is. I haven’t always followed the Christian calendar. But I’ve come to appreciate the way the Christian tradition links us to the Jewish heritage of using seasons of the year as opportunities to observe festivals and holidays. The Jewish pattern of keeping time revolved around the exodus from Egypt, while the Christian calendar is centered on the life and ministry of Jesus.
I love that the church year begins four Sundays before Christmas, with Advent, a time of expectation and hope, which not only looks back to the first coming of Jesus, but also eagerly and anxiously awaits Christ’s return.
Instant gratification, a world that seems to be continually accelerating, and attention spans that are rapidly declining conspire to make us feel like we are always two steps behind. Advent calls us to a wonderfully transformative practice of spending four weeks in preparation as we seek to be intentionally shaped by God through patient endurance and prayerful expectation while we await God’s gracious redemption of all things.
So, I invite you to slow down, take a deep breath, and join a prayer of anticipation and hope:
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.