By Pastor Nathan Clements, American Lutheran Church

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 ev’ry nation, joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Evangelical Lutheran Worship #254, verse 1

Blessings to you this Advent season from the members of American Lutheran Church. Advent marks the beginning of the church year – a time when we join our hearts in hopeful anticipation of our Lord’s coming, both as a baby born in a lowly manger as well as Christ’s return at the end of time. The scripture we hear proclaimed in worship this month speak to both of these events. We will hear Old Testament prophets preparing the way for the Messiah and New Testament evangelists calling upon us to remain patient and steadfast in the Gospel until we are reunited with Jesus in this world. Together we pray, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus!

For many people waiting is neither easy nor glamorous. Even before Thanksgiving we were hearing Christmas music played in stores and on the radio. Traveling plans to be with loved ones for Christmas were made weeks or months in advance. Many Christmas trees and lights appeared in our neighborhoods the day after Thanksgiving. But, there is virtue in waiting. There is virtue in taking the time to prepare our hearts and minds for God’s gift of Jesus.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that we take down the lights and trees. There is nothing wrong with being excited for Christmas! Simply remember that this time of excitement has a name, Advent, and it is an opportunity for us to slow down, reflect, and prepare for the gift we are about to receive.

In our sanctuary the paraments this season are blue, the color of hope. The Advent wreath is a beautiful symbol that accompanies us in our journey through this season. Week by week as we continue to light more candles our sanctuary becomes brighter as the days become shorter. We are reminded of our progress in our pilgrimage to Bethlehem to meet the Christ child. We eagerly await the completion of time when Christ’s light will shine brightly throughout the world.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. The world is in great need of you. Our hope and trust is in you. Help us prepare to greet you anew this Christmas. Amen.