Songs of Advent

Christmas is the promise. Christ’s return is the hope. Before, during and after his first coming, there is darkness and God’s people wait. Cyprian, an early (3rd century) bishop in North Africa, wrote to his young friend Donatus:

“This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see. Brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world.”

Things haven’t changed much. It’s still dark, isn’t it? What Churchill said about another time is still true, “Our problems are beyond us.” The politicians keep making their empty promises; the sellers of trinkets keep hawking their wares and lying to us about how those wares will make the darkness go away; religious leaders keep preaching their sermons about how to live the victorious Christian life…

…but it’s still dark and, like Simeon, we wait.

Isaiah the prophet wrote, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s the light that shines in the darkness…a promise of redemption, resolution and restoration to come when all will be light, when there won’t be any tears, and when we’ll all sing a Christmas carol with far more gusto and joy than we sang it in the dark.

There is more to the quote from Cyprian I gave you above. After referring to the “incredibly bad world,” he wrote to Donatus:

“Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians…and I am one of them.”

In this Advent series we will focus on the songs of Christ’s coming found in the Gospel of Luke: Zechariah’s Benedictus, Mary’s Magnificat, the angels’ Gloria in Excelsis Deo, and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis. Christians and angels joining together to lift their voices in praise to the One coming.

Now, let’s join them in singing…Joy to the World! The Lord is come…

Sermons & Summaries

Click on the link to access articles, summaries and audio for the series.