Epistle Article December 8, 2013

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. 

Charles Wesley, 1744

             We are in the season of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, in which we as Christ’s Church begin the celebration of the Christian Year.  We are eagerly expecting the coming of Christ into the world.  Yet, there is a great paradox and great tension during this season.

During Advent, we as the Church are concerned with the dual celebrations of the incarnation, the embodiment of God in Jesus Christ, and eschatology, the doctrine of the last and final things of all history.  Therefore, Advent is the time in which we give thanks to God for the gift of Christ to all the world in the past and the anticipation of Christ’s coming again in the future.

We encounter elements of both threat and promise in the Scripture that we read and the hymns that we sing during Advent.  As people called Methodists,  we acknowledge that we live with the expectation of Christ’s nativity (which has already happened) and the coming of Christ to rule, to judge, and ultimately to save at the end of time (which is yet to happen).

By celebrating Advent we can find that new light dawns on our Christmas celebration.  Christmas becomes richer and deeper than a mere sentimental remembrance of the birth of Jesus.  Along with the tenderness and intimacy of the birth of Christ, we proclaim that Christmas means “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!”  to set people free from fear and sin.  Jesus as our Redeemer holds the hope we share as we anticipate the consummation of all things.

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.

This Advent and Christmas season promises us that we may experience God’s

Grace and Peace,

Doyle