Tag Archives: Advent

Advent – Week Four LOVE

     Yesterday marked the beginning of the fourth week of Advent. Ron and I lit the candle of LOVE, which joined the three previous candles, symbolizing HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

     If I were asked to describe God and could use only one word, I would choose LOVE. Since Jesus came as Emmanuel—God with Us—then we can say without reservation it was LOVE who came as a babe in a manger.

     In today’s post I’d like to highlight a Christmas hymn with which I wasn’t familiar. I appreciate the profound simplicity of these lyrics written by Christina Rosetti (1830-1864). [1]

Love Came Down at Christmas[2]

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

     Christina grew up in a highly artistic family. The beautiful young Italian woman lived in exile in England with her family. She was deeply devout but also suffered poor health. The fragile young woman found great comfort in writing poetry. Among her poems was the Christmas Hymn, Love Came Down at Christmas.

     In her poem, Christina personified LOVE as the babe born in a manger, realizing full well he was no ordinary baby. Rather, the babe of whom angels sang and shepherds and wisemen worshipped was the incarnation of God. The baby from Heaven took on human body and human nature. He would illustrate what Godly love looks like and build a bridge between God and humankind.

     If you’re anything like me, you’re immersed in all the last-minute details of this lovely but hectic season. You may be asking, “How in the world can I get everything done? Or, as one over-stressed, overwhelmed young mom commented with a sigh, “I don’t even know if we’re going to have Christmas this year!”

     Won’t you, along with me, take a moment today out of the busyness to reflect on the amazing gift of the incarnation—LOVE that came down at Christmas?

God, please immerse us in that LOVE this final week of Advent and as we celebrate Christmas…

Sue Reeve

 

  1. https://www.songandpraise.org
  2. https://www.songandpraise.org

Advent – Week Three JOY

This week Ron and I lit the third candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing JOY. It joined the lights of HOPE and PEACE.

     One of the most beloved Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World” was printed originally in 1719 in a collection written by Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David: Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and applied to the Christian State and Worship. It wasn’t written for Christmas.

     In this hymn, Watts asks nations to rejoice because God’s faithfulness to the house of Israel has delivered salvation.

1 Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

2 Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3 No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

4 He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of His love,
and wonders of His love,
and wonders, wonders of His love

     The short book of Philippians is one of my favorites in the Bible.

     The Apostle Paul references ‘joy’ or ‘rejoicing’ over a dozen times in the letter to his friends in Philippi. When he wrote this letter, he was under Roman house arrest, shackled 24/7 to a Roman guard. Not a very joyous place to be!

     Obviously, Paul had figured out having joy is not dependent on being in pleasant circumstances. I imagine he would have agreed with Henri Nouwen:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

     I’ve been struggling lately with the matter of joy, in a season when I must decide to keep choosing joy daily. The decision to “choose joy” can be difficult and confusing. In Thursday’s post, I will attempt to unpack the matter of joy a bit more. Until then…

Blessings to all as we rejoice in the fact: “the Lord is come…”

Sue Reeve

Advent – Week One HOPE

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.  Romans. 15:13

     Wow, it’s hard to believe! Thanksgiving 2018 is now history, and we’ve entered the Christmas season.

     If you know me well, you know I love everything Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the scents of the season fill me with excitement—and, I admit, sometimes, exhaustion.

     In my non-liturgical faith tradition, little emphasis was placed on Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Last year, I decided to download an Advent devotional, which I read daily until December 25th. Ironically, our pastors also chose to place emphasis on Advent, and each Sunday lit a candle on an Advent wreath.

     I loved my newfound dimension of Christmas, delving more deeply into the sacred meaning of the holy season. I determined to learn more about the liturgical tradition and wanted to create an Advent wreath for our home this year.

     During December, I will be placing emphasis on Advent in my personal devotions and in the Listening on the Journey… blog posts. Each week, my focus will be on traditional themes of Advent:

     Week One, the candle, known as The Prophets’ Candle, symbolizing HOPE;

     Week Two, The Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing FAITH;

     Week Three, The Shepherds’ Candle, symbolizing JOY;

     Week Four, The Angel’s Candle, symbolizing PEACE.

     On Christmas Eve, we’ll have our two young grandkids light a fifth, taller candle, which will be symbolic of Jesus.

     The Jewish nation hoped and waited for a savior for a very long time. More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, foretold their Messiah’s birth,

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

The ancient Christmas hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel summarizes beautifully the hope of the prophets:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

     The first week of Advent focuses on the HOPE of Christmas—the arrival of Immanuel (also spelled Emmanuel) through the mystery of the incarnation.

Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus. Strip away the season’s hustle and bustle, the trees, the cookies, the extra pounds, and what remains is a humble birth story and a simultaneously stunning reality — the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

This incarnation, God himself becoming human, is a glorious fact that is too often neglected, or forgotten, amidst all the gifts, get-togethers, pageants, and presents…[1]

     In Thursday’s post, I will focus further on the importance of the hope of Emmanuel in our lives today. Until then,

Blessings as you ponder the mystery of the incarnation and the hope of Christmas…

Sue Reeve

  1. Joseph Scheumann, www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-truths-about-the-incarnation