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.

10 thoughts on “Advent I – On Jordan’s Bank

  1. Hi Steph,

    Great thoughts. My pastor loves advent – he calls it living in the darkness. . . and we really try also to hold back on the Christmas music (until a week or two before the actual date).

    Yesterday we lit the first candle of the advent wreath – then quietly sang the first verse of “O come o come emmanuel” after a harmonica had played it once – somewhat haunting.
    Next week we’ll add a verse – and so on.

    How do we live then? I guess we keep our eyes open for God quietly breaking in and revealing his glory. That’s my prayer for this season. “Show me your glory”. And then waiting to see . . .

    (Oh and that “culture doesn’t help us bit” . . . there’s a radio station in town that’s been playing christmas – uh – holiday – music since the first week of November! It was a preset on my car radio – no longer is. Of course come Dec 27, and the Christmas music will be gone – along with the trees!)

    Happy New Year Steph! Enjoy the darkness before the dawn.

    • Di – yes. My friend Phil knows his stuff. There’s a hymn in the old IV Hymnal [Hymns II] we used to sing called ‘The Darkness Turns to Dawn’… the dayspring shines from heaven.. for unto us a Son is born, to us a Son is giv’n….

      It’s great. I’ll post it one of these days. By the way, don’t google that phrase. It leads to all kinds of vampire nonsense.

      Darkness. Dawn. Rhythm of life stuff. Almost as compelling as the quote you posted this morning from ‘Stranger than Fiction’. That was remarkable!

  2. Hey Steph!
    Your words are always so encouraging for me. I was reading something Bishop Doyle wrote and wanted to share; I thought this was wonderful and a true testament about Advent.
    “For it is in our waiting, that we discover that Jesus is born for us. It is also in the waiting that we discover we are born for one another and as a gift for one another.”
    Hope you have a great day and good to see you back on here.
    Blessing to you and yours, Ruth Ann

  3. Thank you, Steph! I love hymns and look forward to your Advent series. I am a former “Unplug the Christmas Machine” workshop facilitator, and I’m so disappointed with the way some very fine clergy I know have taken the unplugging way too far this year. Somehow it’s hip to sneer at Christmas displays and music that are too early for one person or another, and the longer you delay any anticipation the better. I agree that there is *in general* too much focus on materialism and missed journeys along the way, but I so prefer to look at the way we as Christians can interpret our world so that these things speak to us as reminders of our faith and of the hopeful, expectation-filled waiting we experience during Advent.

  4. “Now and not yet” …so many things in the Kingdom are like this…for example the Kingdom itself when Jesus says, “The Kingdom is here” and “when the Kingdom comes”….now and not yet… our salvation is now and not yet….and the church is also now and not yet…..So many incredible things….Our God is glorious!

  5. Hey Steph!
    I’m leaving a comment here because I have no other way of contacting you. You can feel free to email me though if you would like to connect. I just wanted to let you know I saw the rheumy yesterday and he isn’t sure yet but i may have psoriatic or reactive arthritis. The tx is the same for rheumatoid. Have you used drugs? I can’t until I quit nursing but I am curious about anyone’s experience with methadextrate. I’m scared of it. But it’s fear of the unknown I suppose. Anyway…just thought I would pop on your blog and say hi and give you an update. Email me if you would like so we can connect further. Thanks, take care!

  6. Oh, Steph! Thanks for sharing as I love your thoughts, although I will have to ponder the one about withholding Christmas music for so long, especially since so much of it is my favorite songs which I wait all year to hear once again….

    Tammy ~@~

  7. This one – words and tune – is new to me. “without Thy grace we waste away” …yep! And “whose advent doth thy people free.”
    This is lovely.

    My Lutheran friend told me about something that I would just love to introduce to my church. Their hymnbook has a small triangle ▲ next to the final verses of hymns with a Trinitarian doxology…***and they stand to sing it***

    Have you heard of that before (standing for the last verse?) It sounds like it would make me have goosebumps.

    We are singing “Lift up your heads ye mighty gates” to a new tune this year. (we’ve always used Truro, which is one of my favorite tunes) The music is Macht Hoch Die Tur by Johann Freylinghausen. It’s very singable and I’m enjoying it.

    Oh I am looking forward to more from you. You are always a blessing.



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