The first candle in the Advent wreath is the Candle of Hope. This past Sunday my pastor referred to it, interestingly, as the Candle of Waiting. How are “Hope” and “Waiting” related? I think the link between the two is in one definition of the word faith—we have a need, and we turn to God to fill it. In other words, we put our hope in His power and compassion, and we wait for His perfect timing. David writes on this often in the Psalms:
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
This is one of the reasons I love the hymn “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”. It perfectly describes not a tiny baby in a manger, but instead the Savior’s mission, His whole reason for being: to deliver us from our sins, and from captivity (of all kinds). All we have to do is wait for Him.
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.
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.
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus ~ Prichard/Wesley; sung by Ashley Spurling
The hymn shows our relationship to God: we are weak, and He is strong. We are tired and can’t go it alone, so Jesus was born to deliver us, give us rest, and console us. We are captive to sins and fears, so God sent His son free us.
I love the Christmas carols that show the innocence and fragility of a newborn baby, and how amazing it is that God poured Himself into such a fragile vessel. This song is not one of those! This is a song about a Hero, a Man with a Plan. This carol shows Jesus’s purpose in His life’s ministry, and how He fulfills the promises God has made to His people.
I like the dual message in this hymn, as well. ”Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is a Christmas carol, describing the birth of the Messiah — but it also is a plea for the second Coming! We light the Candle of Hope—the Candle of Waiting—and we have faith that the Lord will keep His promises today, just as He kept them to Israel when he sent The Savior. We have faith in the blood of the Lamb who washes our sins away, and we wait for Him to come again! Hallelujah!
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Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son. Thank You for sending a Hero to save us from ourselves. Strengthen our faith as we wait, and help us to continually seek You and praise You and be Your hand in this world. Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, come! In His Holy name, Amen.