“Come Lord Jesus” – reflection for the second Sunday of Advent by the Rev’d Geoff Eales

We continue our series of reflections on a hymn or carol

Great is the darkness that covers the earth
Oppression, injustice and pain
Nations are slipping in hopeless despair
Though many have come in Your name
Watching while sanity dies
Touched by the madness and lies
Come Lord Jesus, come Lord Jesus
Pour out Your spirit we pray
Come Lord Jesus, come Lord Jesus
Pour out Your spirit on us today
May now Your church rise with power and love
This glorious gospel proclaim
In every nation salvation will come
To those who believe in Your name
Help us bring light to this world
That we might speed Your return
Great celebrations on that final day
When out of the heavens You come
Darkness will vanish, all sorrow will end
And rulers will bow at Your throne
Our great commission complete
Then face to face we shall meet
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To be honest, Joan chose this great contemporary hymn by Noel Richards. She was always so much better at selecting hymns than me! She hit the nail firmly on the head with this one, so appropriate after the dangerous and difficult year we’ve had: from the darkness of disease, distrust and despair, to the madness of panic buying and lies of fake news, Covid conspiracies and more lately the anti-vaccine protesters.

One of the most persuasive arguments for me when sharing my faith is that no matter how hard times may be, we have a leader who’s not only gone before us, He has triumphed over all darkness, even the greatest – death – cannot prevail over Him. But there’s more. Boris Johnson compares the vaccines to “the light at the end of the tunnel” or the “cavalry of science coming over the hill”, but Noel’s words are so much more powerful…

“Great celebrations on that final day when out of the heavens You come. Darkness will vanish, all sorrow will end and rulers will bow at Your throne”

Great celebrations? I wonder! Throughout my ministry I’ve heard people say they’ll have “serious questions to ask Him” when they come face to face. I offer a more sobering thought, when I meet Him I suspect I’ll be lost for words, and simply fall face down (Matt Redman’s words not mine). So, will you have words on that final day? Or will you fall face down? I guess the answer lies somewhere between the two. No matter how badly we’ve behaved in the past, we are promised that the truly repentant will be rewarded with complete pardon. So thanks to Jesus we can face Him with humble confidence, but on the other hand, that should be tempered with a certain measure of awe and reverence. As one of my peers at Trinity College used to say, “we must never reduce the almighty to the all-matey”.

So what do we do? You may have noticed I missed the middle verse. What happens on that final day will very much depend on what we do between now and then!

“May now Your church rise with power and love this glorious gospel proclaim. In every nation salvation will come to those who believe in Your name. Help us bring light to this world that we might speed Your return”

Jesus said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the

Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) There’s a theory about this great commission: Some theologians think Jesus won’t return until the gospel has been proclaimed to all nations. If they’re right we still have much work to do, but the work is very simple…

“Help us bring light to this world that we might speed Your return”

For “light” read “love” and we won’t be far off God’s plan, His blueprint for humankind. His will, His Kingdom, His very nature is rooted and grounded in love. They say every preacher has one sermon and a thousand ways of saying it, well here’s mine, “God loves you, pass it on”. Jesus commanded us to love one another as He loves us. How does He love us? He went to the cross for us, and whilst for most He may not literally demand quite that same measure, Christian love is all about self-sacrifice, putting our own wants and needs to one side and going out of our way to help others find their shalom (that’s another word you’ll hear me mention quite often!) For me the key line to this song comes at the top of verse two…

“May now Your church rise with power and love this glorious gospel proclaim”

Throughout advent may we reflect on these words, and consider how best we can proclaim the gospel to all nations. “All nations” may sound a little daunting – so let’s just begin with the people around us. The best way to proclaim God’s love is to share it. My personal mission statement comes from St Francis, “Preach the gospel always, use words if absolutely necessary”, we can all do that, with a little help from the power and love of God.

Isaiah’s message this morning is a powerful encouragement to all who proclaim this glorious gospel:

‘You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”’(Isaiah 40:9)

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