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Encountering the Unexpected

Dec 13, 2021

This post is by Sabrina Gogerty.

 

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.

As we head into Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations are already up at stores, Christmas music is piped through the speakers, and the pressure is mounting to get gifts ordered in time to prevent disappointed faces when shipping delays occur. It is a season where many expect much and the reality of the whole “Christmas experience”—food, family, gifts, and making memories—could never attain to the ideal.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2:6‭-‬7, NIV, emphasis added)

 When we desire the superficial, earthly aspects of the Christmas season, we are sure to feel defeated and empty when the last shred of wrapping paper is in the trash and the last to-go plate sent home with guests. Haggai lived in a time when exiled Jews had been permitted to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed. The people labored under great difficulty, and, in chapter 2, God reassures them that the glory of the temple would surpass the glory of Solomon’s temple. “‘And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” (Haggai 2:9)

When the prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley penned the stanzas of “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” intended to celebrate the nativity, he was surrounded by bleak reminders of the great economic divide in Britain and the harsh realities of those enduring abject poverty. He looked to the hope of Israel, which prophesied the great Hope of all nations: Jesus Christ, the true glory of Israel.

Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever,

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

The theme of this Christmas hymn is one of such longing and expectancy, that it is now considered an Advent song, used to prepare our hearts to revere and receive our King. Indeed, we look to the unexpected Jesus to fulfill in and for us what we could never do for ourselves. He frees us from the bondage of sin and oppression of fear; He leads us to true rest; He is the strength and consolation of Israel, hope of the earth, and desire of every nation; and all our longings are joyfully met in Him. 

Then, we see the how and the why of Jesus’ condescending to come to earth. He is born to be our Deliver, the child who was never a prince, but reigned from the foundations of the earth. And now, in the brokenness of our sin-cursed world, we, along with Wesley, ask Jesus to bring His kingdom to earth. With sorrow, joy, and great expectancy, we who are in Christ look eagerly for His return, in whom “..all the promises of God find their Yes in him…” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

The kingdom of God is not simply a future in heaven with Him, nor is it just His followers shining the light of Jesus to those around them. When we pray, “Let your kingdom come,” our next thought should be, “in my heart, Lord” (Matthew 6:10). When Christ sits on the throne of our hearts and His Spirit is guiding our hearts and minds, then we demonstrate His kingdom to the world. When we recognize that it’s only by the Savior’s merit that we have a relationship and a forever-home with the Father, we humbly pour out the same grace that has been shown to us to those around us.

With so many rich Christmas hymns and carols, it is difficult to choose a favorite. Perhaps, this Advent season as you look to meditate on the coming of Christ, you can start with this one and ask God to help you see the “unexpected Jesus” this Christmas, who never fails to satisfy.

 

Sabrina Gogerty lives with her husband and three children–two rambunctious boys and an inquisitive daughter, all under ten–in central Iowa. She is a farm wife who happens to live in town, with a love for baking, reading, coffee, and connecting with and encouraging others. Balancing home life, work life, local church ministry, and leadership in her local Bible study is not always easy. But whether it’s putting together something for an online group of women or studying through passages for HelloMornings, God has always seen fit to bless her heart through the discipline and joy of writing. Sabrina has found that time spent in His Word is never wasted and has joyfully been a part of HelloMornings since April of 2015.

Photo by Michael Maasen on Unsplash

 

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