Today is the beginning of the church year, which begins with the first Sunday of Advent. This season of preparation is made up of several different threads: the prophetic voices of hope from the Old Testament, the witness of John the Baptist, the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the approaching birth of Jesus, and even the return of Christ in the Second Advent.
These things don't proceed in a linear sequence; in fact, the story of the end times usually comes at the beginning of Advent. John the Baptist foretells the ministry of Jesus but that's many years after the birth in Bethlehem; John is still a baby when Mary and Joseph take their difficult journey.
This Advent hymn encompasses the beginning and the end as well as the promises of hope.
Jesus came, adored by angels,
Came with peace from realms on high;
Jesus came for our redemption,
Lowly came on earth to die.
Came in deep humility,
Came in deep humility
Jesus comes again in mercy,
When our hearts are bowed with care;
Jesus comes again in answer
To an earnest, heartfelt prayer;
Comes to save us from despair,
Comes to save us from despair.
Jesus comes to hearts rejoicing,
Bringing news of sins forgiven;
Jesus comes in sounds of gladness,
Leading souls redeemed to Heav’n;
Now the gate of death is riv’n,
Now the gate of death is riv'n.
Jesus comes on clouds triumphant,
When the heav’ns shall pass away;
Jesus comes again in glory;
Let us then our homage pay,
Till the dawn of endless day,
Till the dawn of endless day.
Godfrey Thring, 1864; alt.
Tune: CWM RHONDDA (18.104.22.168.D.)
John Hughes, 1907
One (Liturgical) Year Ago: Thousand Thousand Saints Attending
One (Calendar) Year Ago: John Haynes Holmes