Psalm 119:89-90 says:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
The theme of our Advent series this year was from the the classic hymn, "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus". The song refers to Jesus as the "Joy of Every Longing Heart".
I love that line because it so beautifully encapsulates the mysterious blend of joy and longing, hope and anxiety, darkness and light, waiting and celebrating that define the existence of Christians as we await the return of the Lord.
The Christmas season is full of reminders why we ought to be filled with joy. God came as a Baby to begin a rescue mission. The Father orchestrated even the stars in the sky and the motives and choices of earthly kings to announce the birth of the Savior. Symbols like the Christmas Tree, the candy cane, candlelight, nativities....whether our culture fully realizes it or not....all point to this wonderful event over 2000 years ago.
But at the same time, Christmas brings back to mind many of the points of darkness and pain in our broken world. It's a time when we remember those that sickness and death and sin have taken from us. We become acutely aware of those in need and the sadness and brokenness prevalent in so many lonely and suffering hearts.
This Sunday, we'll close our Advent series and kick off our week of Christmas celebrations, by again acknowledging and not rushing past the hard truths of a broken and waiting world, and then exhorting our own hearts and one another to place our cares on the shoulders of our Savior, and celebrate his perfect rescue mission and promised return to make all things new again! He, and He alone, is the source of joy for every longing heart.
Here are the Scriptures and Songs that will make up our Christmas Service this Sunday at 9am and 11am.