As I sat, pouring my heart out to the Lord in prayer, I discussed and repented over my expectations on certain areas in my life and how I had placed serious demands on meeting them. I thought about my anxiousness and the anticipation of upcoming weeks. Because I wasn't sure how to proceed with meaningful or productive preparation, or even restoration of what I had created within my self-absorbed flesh, I felt paralyzed and tried to overcome with self-motivated solutions. It's never a good thing to set out a course in your own strength! It's surely a recipe for deep hurt and disappointment. Thank you Lord for turning my eyes and heart toward You, even if it took a little painting in an email subscription! The only way to stay focused on what is important is to trust His heart for our own personal life! Interestingly, Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, anticipation, and preparation, and of longing. My focus was just headed in the wrong direction as I had my own expectations, anticipations, and thoughts of preparation. May The Holy Spirit speak to you through this blog as you may experience one or all of these 3-4 little words in the days ahead.
Wishing you a blessed Season of Advent,
O Come, O Come... a blog from 2014.
The process of writing for the Monday Musings blog has been quite interesting for Kathy and I each week as we try to reflect or share something to stir your heart, cause you to ponder, or awaken your passion to know Christ more intimately. They are often created out of our own personal experiences. Last weekend was so much fun as we escaped to the beach with our friend Suzanne. We both were in much need of a personal Restore Retreat…it was way too short, but I was thankful! I knew it was Kathy’s turn for the blog so I wasn’t too worried with thinking about what to write for my week. There were so many object lessons while at the beach, I felt sure that the Lord would choose to let me write on one of those. Nope! It’s another lesson in trusting Him because today is Sunday and it will be posted in the morning! The only thing that seems to be hanging in my mind are three little words for which I had nothing…no meat and no scripture to back up these words! Only the words! You know, after reading many of my posts, God speaks to me in the most unusual ways! So here I am, stuck with three words and an unseeingly unrelated scripture verse that awakened me at 3:33am! Let’s see how God chooses to tie these things together! Play this You Tube of the Piano Guys and let the music soar as you read the rest of the blog. You can come back and watch the video later.
Here are my three words: expect, anticipate, prepare
I was not certain how these words would play out in a blog until I got a little curious about a Christmas hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Brian and I put up some of our Christmas decorations yesterday while listening to Christmas music. I love this 18th century plainsong, which actually derived from a poem dating back to the 5th or 8th century…its origin is unclear! This Latin chant was used in a call and response fashion during the vespers, or evening, service during the 12th century. I’ll share more about this special hymn later; let’s get back to these three words! Expect, anticipate, and prepare… humm? What should I expect, Lord? Anticipate? Isn’t that the same as expect?! Prepare? Prepare what? Or prepare for what? My mind began to wonder why these three words were clumped together. I still didn’t know until I read this online while researching the hymn tune: “Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing.” Sunday, November 30, 2014, (today as I write) is the first day of Advent! Talking about chill bumps!
What exactly is Advent? As a kid growing up in a Protestant church, I really was unsure but knew it had something to do with a calendar or wreath with candles to mark out a few days before Christmas. Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Advent begins four Sunday’s before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. This year, it begins today, November 30th. Its focus is double as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in his first Advent and anticipate the return of Christ in his Second Advent. It was the cry and prayer of the Israelites long ago as they long awaited the coming King. It is my cry and prayer today, along with other believers, who await and are hopeful for His second coming.
“Come, O Come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel!”
O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a Christian hymn for Advent; its origin is Latin as Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.
“When we sing each verse of this hymn, we acknowledge Christ as the fulfillment of these Old Testament prophesies. We sing this hymn in an already-but not yet-kingdom of God. Christ's first coming gives us a reason to rejoice again and again, yet we know that all is not well with the world. So along with our rejoicing, we plead using the words of this hymn that Christ would come again to perfectly fulfill the promise that all darkness will be turned to light. That is the promise we hold to as we sing this beautiful hymn.” *
5th century Jewish Christians may have used this Advent hymn, since most of the themes are from the Old Testament. In the 9th century, the hymn was incorporated by the medieval church for use during Advent. During the week before Christmas Day, seven “Great ‘O’ Antiphons,” each of them in praise and wonderment (“O”) of an Old Testament name for the coming Messiah, were chanted.
In the 13th century, these antiphons were put in Latin hymn form, “Veni, Emmanuel,” and the “Rejoice” refrain was added. In Latin, the seven antiphons formed an acrostic from the opening words:
“O Sapienta” (Wisdom): In Christ are found “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
“O Adonai” (Lord of Might): He is called “Mighty God” (Is 9:6).
“O Radix Jesse” (Root of Jesse): After the kingdom of David, Jesse’s son, was cut down to a mere stump, Messiah will come and rebuild it into a kingdom made up of Jews and Gentiles (Is 11:1, 10).
“O Clavis David” (Key of David): The Son of David will have the authority to open and shut heaven’s gate (Is 22:22).
“O Oriens” (Light of the East): As the bright Morning Star and Dayspring, the Messiah will give light to all who walk in darkness (Nm 24:17; Is 9:2; John 8:12).
“O Rex gentium” (King of Nations): At last, when he returns, he will reign as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Is 9:6; Rv 19:16).
“O Emmanuel” (God With Us): He came down from heaven to dwell with us (Jn 1:14). And he will return to take us to his dwelling-place forever (Rv 21:3).
When read backwards, S-A-R-C-O-R-E becomes Ero Cras (“I will be there tomorrow”), anticipating the arrival of Jesus on Christmas Day, God’s answer to the petition, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” So the verse we usually sing as the first was actually the climactic last of the seven antiphons sung on Christmas Eve.*
I found this very interesting and there is a little debate on the actuality of reading backwards and whether this was intentional or not! It is said that the Benedictine Monks arranged the verses in this fashion and that it went along with the season of Advent. I often use acrostics or acronyms when I create so this isn’t too far out there for me to believe. Kathy and I even began this ministry with a vision and connected its title with an acronym.
The titles for Christ, as indicated in each verse of the song, describe His character and nature. They paint a beautiful portrait of what He has done, of this authority, and of His power.
“When we comprehend the rich meaning of the titles set forth in this song,
it is transformed from a simple Christmas carol into a powerful vehicle of praise
and a heartfelt prayer of anticipation.” ~ Christopher & Melanie Lane
When you choose to study the names of God, you learn more about His character and about His deep abiding love for us, His chosen ones. More knowledge and wisdom about our Savior awakens us to know and see Him more clearly. Our eyes are opened and our worship becomes more passionate. We long for Him to come again and we cry out, O Come, O Come…!
So those three little words (expect, anticipate, prepare) opened up a door for me. Although I grew up not knowing much about Advent, and never observed it, I am experiencing a new excitement about the Christmas season. I am also learning more about waiting which is at the heart of Advent! Because it’s been such a tough year for me, many questions saturate my mind. Along with these questions comes a season of waiting. Waiting on the Lord to reveal answers, direction, and purpose. These scripture verses also express the theme of Advent:
You may be thinking, okay…those were the 3 words, but what about the scripture verse waking you at 3:33am?!
It’s Psalm 98:4
“Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!”
With this beautiful carol I can shout and sing for joy! As I have closely studied the lyrics of this Advent hymn and learned of its origin, it has a new meaning for me. It is with heartfelt hope, longing, and waiting that I too can sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. By the way, this week I am beginning a study by Ann Voskamp on the Greatest Christmas - The 4 Weeks of Advent! This blog surely isn't coincidence and I didn't plan it this way! It's simply God at work!
It's now 2019 and God is still at work and this blog was so timely for me! Again!
Maybe you are awaiting something and your heart is longing to meet God in an intimate way. Remember, trust is at the heart of intimacy! Immanuel has come to fill the world with His light and illuminate your eyes. May He dispel the shadows of darkness that try to hide His glory, deliver distress, and cause a restless and weary heart. Break out in praise and sing for joy for the Lord is good and His faithfulness endures to all generations!
He will come to you if you but simply ask! Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
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