is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Come, Thou Prince of Peace

Ahh.  Advent.

Advent brings the hope of new life, bound by forgiveness, buttressed by faith.  Today was the first Sunday of Advent at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  From our program, here's an explanation to all those who are puzzled by Advent.  

"Beginning four Sundays before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, Advent is the first season of the church year.  The message of Advent is that God in Christ is coming to the world.  It is a time of preparation, reflection and anticipation.  The liturgical color of Advent is purple -- the color of royalty. Symbols of the season include the Advent wreath and the Advent banners representing hope, peace, joy and love."

Since we have been preparing for next week's choral presentation since August, it is indeed appropriate to say, "ahh...Advent."  In the coming days, we will be preparing our hearts for the performance next Sunday of Handel's Messiah by my Chancel Choir.  We are preparing our hearts to reach out to those who need our kindness, who need our forgiveness, who need our Love.  Most importantly, we are preparing our hearts to remember we are redeemed and forgiven children of God.

Today, however we sang an anthem that is one of my favorites, and one which marks the beginning of Advent every year at Central -- Who At My Door Is Standing, by K. Lee Scott.  Here are the words:

Who at my door is standing, 
there patiently drawing near, 
who entrance is demanding?
Whose is the voice I hear?
Sweetly the tones are falling: 
"Now open the door for me! 
If thou wilt heed my calling, 
I will abide with thee."
Within, the rooms are darkened, 
all filled with dust and sin; 
how shameful, how unworthy for Christ to enter in.  
Yet, the tones are falling: 
"Now open the door for me!  
If thou wilt heed my calling, 
I will abide with thee."

Door of my heart, I hasten!
Thee will I open wide.
Though he rebuke and chasten, 

he shall with me abide.
Sweetly the tones are falling: 
"Now open the door for me!"
Lord God, I hear thee calling,
come now,
abide with me!

This song always moves me to tears, especially the words sung by the men: "...Within, the rooms are darkened, all filled with dust and sin; how shameful, how unworthy for Christ to enter in.  Yet, the tones are falling: "Now open the door for me!  If thou wilt heed my calling, I will abide with thee."  It is during that portion of the anthem that my tears overwhelm me as I realize that my rooms are darkened, I am filled with dust and sin, and I often feel as if I am unworthy.  

It is during Advent that I also consider that there is hope for a better tomorrow if just open the door wide and allow Christ into my heart.  He is waiting for me to let him in.  

We also shared a prayer, written by Reverend Stephanie Moon McCormick, our new minister of discipleship ... and it is my hope your heart will find peace in her words:

Most Holy God,
for whom we prepare to be revealed to us
as a babe in a manger, stir us to wakefulness.
Alert us to your presence this day.
As we seek you, may we find you revealed to us in many ways:
As a child, a teacher, a visitant of the marginalized,
a savior who offers us peace on earth,
and justice without violence.
Awaken us this day to follow your ways.

I hope this Season of Advent will cause peace to settle in your heart, because you, too, are a redeemed and forgiven child of God.   I may not be perfect -- I'm not special -- but I am enough.  So are you.

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