“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,’ which is translated ‘God is with us.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
All this week we have been talking about hope; what it is and how we can have it in a way that makes a difference in our lives. At the end of the day…or week…though, there is one thing that matters and stands out above all the rest: Our hope is in Jesus. When Jesus was born, He was the fulfillment of the hopes of the people of Israel. He was all they had been waiting on for centuries. They didn’t understand it at first, but gradually word began to spread and the hope He came bearing with it. And I could take great pains to explain this to you and exhort you to take great stock in it this morning, but sometimes there’s a better way.
Sometimes a songwriter captures a particular Biblical truth in a way that grabs our attention and works its way into our hearts better than simply reading it or hearing it read can do. Over the centuries there have been certain songwriters with a gift for capturing truth lyrically in ways that have endured through the ages. One of these songwriters was the brother of the founder of the modern Methodist Church, John Wesley. Charles Wesley never attained quite the fame of his more well-known brother, but his music is still affirming faith and capturing spiritual imaginations in ways his brother is not.
While Charles wrote many, many well-known songs, one of my favorites at this time of the year is Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. The words capture the hope we have in Christ and timelessly express the longing in the hearts of the people of God both ancient and modern. They set Jesus firmly in the hopeful tradition of ancient Israel while at the same time bridging their longing for God’s Messiah to come to our modern longing for Christ to return and restore all of creation with the advent of His glorious kingdom.
Rather than giving you more to read, then, this morning, I’m going to give you something to see and to hear. My absolute favorite version of the song was done a couple of years ago by Christian singer and songwriter, Meredith Andrews. She beautifully performs the original version and then adds an extra verse that expresses the hope we have today in Christ even more powerfully. Listening to it–and belting along when no one is around–still brings tears to my eyes three years after first hearing it. May it so bring a blessing to you today as you exult in the hope found nowhere other than the glorious Son of God.