Veni, Veni Emmanuel!
Pastor Ian shares with us the original expectation underlying the season of Advent, and encourages us to await Christ's coming with similarly joyful and expectant hearts.
This is the season of expectation. Stores are expecting big sales, children are expecting gifts, and families are expecting at least some brief time away during the holidays. It is also the time when Christians all around the world are celebrating the season of Advent.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which is a translation of the New Testament (Greek) word parousia, meaning coming or arrival. Though we now celebrate the 'Advent Season' by remembering the coming of Christ at Christmas, in the earliest Advent tradition the persecuted church fervently believed they were living in the last days, and their joyful expectation was not actually for the coming of the baby Jesus at Christmas. It was instead for the second, victorious coming of King Jesus promised in Revelation 22:20. It was a coming expected by John’s announcement, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’” And in response, the early church would proclaim with the Apostle, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
It was not an annual or seasonal expectation. It was the daily, heartfelt prayer of every believer, “Immanuel—God who abides—Come!” This prayer was later enshrined in the 13th century Latin hymn, Veni, Veni Emmanuel, or, as we now sing it, O Come, O Come Emmanuel! In this hymn, the ancient church identified with Israel, yet with one notable exception, they knew the One for whom they waited.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel
Like Israel in exile, we believers know we are not yet home. Like Israel, we too await the coming Liberator. Our rejoicing anticipates His coming! It is an expectation that is informed by the joyful awareness that the coming Liberator knows our names and comes for us! And so my prayer is that we will continually expect Him, not just during a season of liturgical celebration, and that until He returns we will daily respond, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
To assist you in preparing your heart for the coming Christ, our sister Koh Siang Kiang has reprinted an Advent devotional guide entitled, They Looked for Redemption, that she and Dr Poulson wrote in 2013. They were distributed last Sunday, but if you did not get a copy please contact the church office and we will make one available for you to pick up this Sunday. You can also download a pdf version of the devotional guide HERE. If you do not already have a devotional guide to use for your daily time with God, let me encourage you to use this little booklet, even beyond the Christmas season, to re-tune your heart… until the Son of God appears!
This Sunday we will meet together around Isaiah 49:1-13 as we celebrate the Servant King who brought Hope for Distant Nations. Let’s invite a friend and come with expectant hearts!
On December 24th we will gather together as a church family to celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas. At 9 am we will hear the testimonies of those being baptised, and celebrate the true King who comes to live among us. Then, at 10:30 am we will meet on Level 3 for a time of carol singing, special presentations and a Christmas fellowship meal. Let us gather together to celebrate both His last coming and the next!