Advent I – On Jordan’s Bank

When singing this at church yesterday, I just knew that this would be our hymn to begin our Advent
series. I love the sense of expectant preparation in this text. Many Advent hymns focus on the now-and-
not-yet of the season, but this one, to me, simply says ‘He’s coming. Make way.’ That’s exactly what I intend
to do in these next weeks.

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth’s own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.
Words: Charles Coffin, 1736;
trans. John Chandler, 1837
Music: Winchester New

But how do I prepare? How do I endeavor to allow the Lord to use me to “let thy light restore
earth’s own true loveliness once more”? For me, it’s simple ways – more time in the scriptures, a prayer book with me, and at least making an effort – at least for these first 2 weeks – to avoid straight-on Christmas music. That’s the hard part. Our culture doesn’t help us – most throw away their Christmas trees on Dec. 26th, the Christmas music stops – we don’t even put ours UP until the 24th!

I’m not intending or recommending scrooginess. Not at all. But a tempering to the Christmas celebration now will
bear significant fruit in your experience of the Christ child, and of Epiphany!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, we wait in expectation. In anticipation. And even in a bit of tension. For
this is Advent, and a King is coming. Make straight a highway for our God.

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