Advent has always been my favorite season of the liturgical year, especially when I was a Lutheran pastor. The prayers, the Scriptures, the hymns, the Advent wreath, all played their proper roles in stirring up hope in the midst of what might otherwise be a dark and gloomy time of early winter. I’ll try and dig up some of my old sermons from that period that seems so long ago.
From the Lutheran Book of Worship …
Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings (Year B):
Thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting. O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1-8)
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves. Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. (Psalm 80:1-7)
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Mark 13:33-37)
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.
Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!
Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!
Answer Thine own bride and Spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new Heav’n and earth t’inherit,
Take Thy pining exiles home:
All creation, all creation, all creation,
Travails! groans! and bids Thee come!
The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!
Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!
Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear.
The evening is advancing, and darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising, and soon He draweth nigh.
Up, pray, and watch, and wrestle: At midnight comes the cry.
See that your lamps are burning; replenish them with oil.
And wait for your salvation, the end of earthly toil.
The watchers on the mountain proclaim the Bridegroom near.
Go meet Him as He cometh, with alleluias clear.
O wise and holy virgins, now raise your voices higher,
Until in songs of triumph ye meet the angel choir.
The marriage feast is waiting, the gates wide open stand;
Rise up, ye heirs of glory, the Bridegroom is at hand.
Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!
Arise, Thou Sun so longed for, over this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption that brings us unto Thee.
Ye saints, who here in patience your cross and sufferings bore,
Shall live and reign forever, when sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory the Lamb ye shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him your diadems of gold!
O Lord, how shall I meet You, how welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet You, my Hope, my heart’s Delight!
O kindle, Lord most holy, a lamp within my breast,
To do in spirit lowly all that may please You best.
Love caused Your incarnation, love brought You down to me;
Your thirst for my salvation procured my liberty.
O love beyond all telling, that led you to embrace
In love all loves excelling our lost and fallen race.
A glorious crown You gave me, a treasure safe on high,
That will not fail nor leave me as earthly riches fly.
My heart shall bloom forever for You with praises new,
And from Your Name shall never withhold the honor due.
Come, O precious Ransom, come,
Only hope for sinful mortals!
Come, O Savior of the world;
Open are to you all portals.
Come, your beauty let us view;
Anxiously we wait for you.
Enter now my waiting heart,
Glorious King and Lord most holy.
Dwell in me and never leave,
Thought I am but poor and lowly.
What vast riches will be mine
When you are my guest divine!
My hosannas and my palms
Graciously receive, I pray you;
Evermore, as best I can,
Homage I will gladly pay you,
And in faith I will embrace
Life eternal by your grace.
Hail! Hosanna! David’s Son!
Jesus, hear our supplication!
Let your kingdom, scepter, crown
Bring us blessing and salvation
That forever we may sing:
Hail! Hosanna to our king!
The advent of our God
Our prayers must now employ,
And we must meet Him on His road
With hymns of holy joy.
The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be;
Himself a servant’s form puts on
To set His people free.
Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet thy lowly King,
Nor let thy faithless heart despise
The peace He comes to bring.
As Judge, on clouds of light,
He soon will come again,
And all His scattered saints unite
With Him in Heaven to reign.
Before the dawning day
Let sin’s dark deeds be gone;
The old man all be put away,
The new man all put on.
All glory to the Son
Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
Through all eternity.