People, look east. The time is near of the crowning of the year. Make your house fair as you are able; trim the hearth and set the table. People, look east and sing today: Love, the Guest, is on the way.
Perhaps one of my favorite Advent carols, I was first introduced to this hymn at Montreat. Our leader was taking us through the wonderful new hymnal (a few years back, now). He suggested that this hymn was a beautiful harmony – literally, in terms of the musical setting – for Good Christian Friends, Rejoice. It has a similar lilt. And therefore might be useful to keep those, who desperately want Christmas hymns too early in the season of preparation, happy.
In addition to it’s jovial tune, which is a great way to begin this new week, the lyrics of this hymn, written in the 1920s, give glorious visions of the One who is coming. Christ is described as the Guest, the Rose, the Bird, the Star, and, of course, the Lord. All are classic symbols of the Advent-Christmas seasons. Most importantly, however, Christ is described as Love. The writer follows quite clearly what 1 John teaches us: “God is Love.”
Now, the Beatles once suggested that “love is all you need.” This seems trite to many. For oftentimes, we think of love only as a fancy or a feeling. We forget that real love is far more than simply an emotion. It is, as Mr. Rogers said, an active verb. Love is something we do, not only through saying the words, but more importantly through our actions. For our close family and friends, that may be a hug, sharing a laugh, or giving a gift.
However, just as Christ extended his circle beyond the few, so we are called to do as well. This means, among other things, that we are meant to show love in tangible ways to our neighbors, our community, and even strangers – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, seeking justice for the oppressed, just to name a few methods.
From the western world, we must look east to follow the star of Bethlehem. It marks not only the final days of the year, but also a renewal of all that Christ’s birth means for our lives. Love is on the way – for us and for the whole world. Let us share that same love as freely as the Lord has with us, in this season and beyond. And as you do, keep your eyes to the east and open wide for: Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim one more light the bowl shall brim, shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as sun and moon together. People look east and sing today: Love, the Star, is on the way.
Reverse Advent Calendar: Another way you can serve the Kingdom this Advent is to create gifts for your homebound neighbors, family, and friends. Even the smallest gift can bring light to those who need it.