Longing to See the Savior

Posted on December 9, 2013 by


Advent2This week I will take a break from what I said I would blog about: leadership styles and how to maximize them.

The reason? This month represents something infinitely more important!  As we look forward to Christmas, it is good to pause and prepare ourselves for this Advent season. The history of Advent is an interesting one.  From an Advent prayer book from my church, Liberti:

Advent is a word that means “arrival.” It is a four-week period in which the Church looks back to Jesus’ first coming, and looks ahead to his promise to come again to make all things new. Just as John the Baptizer told the Jewish people to “prepare” for the Lord’s coming, we need to prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus’ coming, pay attention to how he is present in our lives, and prepare for his coming again.

The Christian Church has observed a Christmas season since the 4th century. There was always a period of preparation before Christmas Day, which varied from between 3 to 7 weeks. In the 10th century the 4-week pattern was finally settled. European Christians used greenery and candles to enhance the season, and that practice has caught on in the United States and around the world in recent years.

The prophet Simeon, the Scripture says, was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.”  He had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And so he waited for the most significant moment not only of his life, but of the whole Creation!  You see, the Creation had fallen into sin and needed a Savior.  And in God’s eternal wisdom, He decided to send His beloved Son Jesus to save us from our sin. So Simeon waited.  And waited.  And in his last days, he went ‘by the Spirit’ into the Temple and there took the Child in his arms and blessed God and prayed one of 3 great prayers in the Gospel of Luke.

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

for my eyes have seen your salvation

that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.” 

Luke 2: 29-32

This prayer in Christian tradition is called the ‘Nunc Dimittis’, which is the Latin for the first two words of the prayer of Simeon, ‘Now dismiss.’  The other two prayers are called the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer, and the Benedictus, Zachariah’s prophecy.

While we typically think that the Advent season is meant to prepare us for the birth of Jesus, Simeon sees something different.  He sees that in the Child that he holds in his arms God has prepared salvation for us!  God prepares salvation for us in Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.  Our response should be twofold:

  1. That we would prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming by waiting, reflecting and praying like Simeon did.  If you’ve never used an Advent prayer book before, try this one.  Perhaps you could stretch your time with Christ each morning in order to read and pray Advent Scriptures and prayers.
  2. We should be going about our lives in a way that reflects our faith and love for this Coming King.  Reflect on this story from the life of John Coltrane, told by Andy Grice:

“John Coltrane was arguably one of the most significant saxophonists in jazz history … he was a deeply spiritual man and as his career progressed his music took on a spiritual dimension … and in the liner notes of possibly Coltrane’s most famous piece, A Love Supreme he wrote this:

‘During the year 1957, I experienced, by the Grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.’

And so the story goes after one particular performance of a Love Supreme, John Coltrane steps off the stage and is heard to whisper ‘Nunc Dimittis‘ (now dismiss your servant in peace.)  John Coltrane is essentially saying that he has done what he was meant to do! He has glorified God in and through his music and now his job is done.”

May you take the time to reflect on the Coming King this Advent season, that God has prepared salvation for ALL people.  What joy shall fill our hearts as we worship God’s salvation, Jesus Christ.