Longing: An Advent Devotional
Overland Park Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, November 27th
As we begin our journey to Christmas, let us sing our hopes and promises for our Savior:
(May be sung to the tune of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, or simply read meditatively)
Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
behold, the King of glory waits;
the King of kings is drawing near;
the Savior of the world is here!
Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven’s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.
Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to thee we open wide;
Let us thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.
Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
Until our glorious goal is won;
Eternal praise, eternal fame
Be offered, Savior, to thy name!
-Georg Weissell, trans. by Catherine Winkworth
O God, be gracious to us; For you we wait. Our hearts long for You. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. Shine your light into our hearts and inflame them with your love. Amen.-Dwight M. Vogel
GROW: ISAIAH 2:1-5
The people of Israel are in a time of great anxiety and stress. Fear is covering the land. They are uncertain about their future and the feeling of hopelessness has overcome everyone, especially those in leadership. It is into this situation that God’s people need encouragement about the future. Indeed the prophet Isaiah is writing in large part a great word of hope, because “every generation needs assurance that the powers of the world—whether the Romans of Jesus’ time or the principalities and powers of our present age—do not determine the future.”
The first words God gives us as we begin Advent are words of longing. The Prophet Isaiah “sees” a word about his people. The word is a word of hope and promise. First the promise comes that the Lord’s house will be established on the highest of the mountains, so that all peoples everywhere will see it. In seeing the house of the Lord their hearts will begin to long for the teaching of their God. Also, their hearts will long for the new ways of living in the light of the Lord’s glory. The longing in human hearts will not be reserved for Judah and Jerusalem, but people of all nations will see the mountain of the Lord’s house, and they will be drawn to it. The prophet is clear: People from every nation will long for the Lord.
We, too, are living in a day of great uncertainty. Stress and anxiety fill our hearts. We are greatly tempted to fill the void of our lives with things, which provide momentary satisfaction, but they do not ultimately satisfy us. As yet, we do not see the highest mountain where the house of the Lord resides. We are waiting for this final great Day, when people will be streaming into the New Jerusalem filled with the presence of God. We do, however, have the glorious vision of Jesus Christ set before us, namely in the gospels, but also in the sacraments, the creeds, the doctrines, and the worship life of the church. Christ is our vision, and we are called to run to him. His teaching and his faithfulness is the glorious vision of hope and promise as we live in the in-between time.
On this first day of Advent let us begin our service to God and to one another by a very simple, yet profound act. Take fifteen minutes today to call, write, or visit with someone we know who is discouraged, confused, or in doubt about Christ’s faithfulness in the world. In your communication write about the hope and promise you have found in Christ. Encourage your friend with your words, and impress upon them the good news that Christ is near to them. This simple gesture is a wonderful way to begin our journey.