Saturday, December 6, 2014

O Lord How Shall I Meet You?

Advent is a time of repentant expectation. This hymn emphasizes the heart of advent, the heart of our faith, in verse four: “Love caused your incarnation.” Remember, as we anticipate Christmas: He came so that he could die for us. The cross was always in view, always a shadow over his life in this broken place. And yet He embraced it because of His love for us.

And now, this love- what more in this life could we possibly need? We have all things in Christ!
If Christ is not risen, we are of all men most to be pitied.
But if he IS (and He is!) than we who are in Christ have everything!
We may suffer loss and trial, but what loss is it when we have the love of God? Let us not refuse so great a salvation!

Listen to the podcast here: IssuesEtc.

Written by Paul Gerhard, the so-called “Suffering poet of the heart.”
Below, the lyrics, each stanza followed by a personal reflection from me, inspired by a recent Bible study discussion and the above podcast.

O Lord, How Shall I Meet You
By: Paul Gerhardt

O Lord, how shall I meet you,
How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you,
My hope, my heart's delight!
Oh, kindle, Lord most holy,
Your lamp within my breast
To do in spirit lowly
All that may please you best.

Eyes to the sky, prepare yourself soul, your Lord IS coming to you! God, grant us repentance and faith that we may meet him with eagerness and joy! For all things, even our faith, let us look outside ourselves: God must kindle, and does so generously through His Word and His Spirit. As we grow in faith in Jesus, may we also grow in understanding of his condescension to us; His humility; His willingness to set aside all things to minister to us. May that love grow in us, that we learn to welcome others with a lowly and generous spirit.

Your Zion strews before you
Green boughs and fairest palms;
And I too will adore you
With joyous songs and psalms.
My heart shall bloom forever
For you with praises new
And from your name shall never
With hold the honor due.

Praise the God of your salvation, soul! He who has come to die and rise for you and for all- celebrate Him, and rejoice in Him! When His love for you overflows into praise, and you are God's joyful child, you are blooming as you were made to bloom. Let the name of Father, Son, and Spirit, be a name you wear proudly. Honor His name in love and truth.

I lay in fetters, groaning;
You came to set me free.
I stood, my shame bemoaning;
You came to honor me.
A glorious crown you give me,
A treasure safe on high
That will not fail or leave me
As earthly riches fly.

O soul in captivity, heavy with sin, feel the weight of your sickness and slavery! Abandon hope in yourself and in this world, and look to Him who gives His Own honor, covers you in His own righteousness. You are now free to rest secure in the safety He gives.

Love caused your incarnation;
Love brought you down to me.
Your thirst for my salvation
Procured my liberty.
Oh, love beyond all telling,
That led you to embrace
In love, all love excelling,
Our lost and fallen race.

Take heart- your God thirsts for your salvation! He eagerly desires your healing, He aches for your return to His arms. He seeks, finds, frees, and even now embraces you and all people.

Rejoice, then, you sad-hearted,
Who sit in deepest gloom,
Who mourn your joys departed
And tremble at your doom.
Despair not; he is near you,
There, standing at the door,
Who best can help and cheer you
And bids you weep no more.

This is life in this broken world: crumbling joys, breaking hearts, uncertain futures. And yet He is near, even at the door, and soon our time of weeping will be past. He is making all things new.

Sin's debt, that fearful burden
Cannot His love erase;
Your guilt the Lord will pardon
And cover by His grace.
He comes for you procuring
The peace of sin forgiv'n,
His children thus securing
Eternal life in heaven.

Our debt is tremendous, His Love covers it all. Covered in His bloody mercy, we are safe. We have peace with God; His good will toward men has been shown plainly to us in Jesus.

He comes to judge the nations,
A terror to his foes,
A light of consolations
And blessed hope to those
Who love the Lord's appearing.
O glorious Sun, now come,
Send forth your beams so cheering,
And guide us safely home.

Only those who refuse to be saved need fear. His children look forward in joyful hope to His coming our final, perfect, eternal welcome home.

Come Lord Jesus,
come quickly.

LSB 334 by Paul Gerhardt
Public Domain

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