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December 2016/January 2017 (Vol. 61, No.10)


Behold, thy King cometh unto thee;
He is just and having salvation!

  "HE IS COMING!" Such is the message of Advent. This does not mean that someone is coming from anywhere within our world but that Someone is coming from beyond our world and entering our time and space, yea, even our very human nature, to help us in our need. And that Someone who is coming is no one less than God Himself!

  The Advent cry "He is coming" is, however, not a mere empty promise of a future event but the announcement of an already present reality, a reality which God already began in the past. We dare not, however, speak of God's coming as if it were merely a bygone event; He is at the present time still coming to us. Yet He does not exhaust Himself in the present but will reveal Himself to us also in the future.

  The church has attempted to express this entirely unique, supratemporal coming of her Lord by speaking of His threefold Advent. (1) He has come! The One whom God promised to His people actually appeared in history and has permanentely united Himself to our human nature. (2) He is coming! Even today He continues to come unto us with all of His grace and favor through His Word and Sacraments. (3) He shall come! His tremendous majesty shall be revealed at the end of time. He whom the world nailed to the cross shall confront His rebellious creatures as their Savior-Judge. He is already now secretly and invisibly present in the world, ever since His resurrection from the dead and His exaltation to the right hand of God's power. Soon, however, He will break through the orders of creation and make us fully understand what He means when He says:"I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, which is and which was and which is to come, the Almighty."

  If we are to meet Him who comes thus, we must repent and allow ourselves to be admonished by His forerunner, John the Baptist, to approach His crib and the approaching celebration of His incarnation with repentance. That is why an earnest violet is the liturgical color for Advent, preceding the white of Christmas and Epiphany (which symbolizes the manifestation of Christ's glorious light). In keeping with the tone of repentance the Gloria in Excelsis is omitted from the liturgy during Advent. In many places no flowers are placed on or about the altar. Certainly, except for rehearsal purposes, Christmas hymns and carols are not sung until Christmas Eve. A fine Advent custom is that of preparing an Advent wreath with its four candles; one candle is lighted before the reading of the Old Testament lesson in the service during the first week in Advent, two during the second week, and so forth until during the fourth week all four candles burn in anticipation of "the fullness of time" when the incarnation is celebrated.

Source credit: LCSM Worship Commission of 1961

Peace to you in this blessed season