Much More To Come: Reflections On An Advent Hymn
Christmas is almost here, but allow me just a little Advent, still. One of my favorite hymns for Advent shows us there is so much more to come! Check out LSB 348, “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” (Lutheran Service Book,#348, text and tune, public domain).
The King shall come when morning dawns And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty guilds the eastern hills And life to joy awakes. (LSB 348, st. 1)
Christmas is coming! How could anyone forget? Yet our anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth (special services, special family events, special gifts, etc.) is also but a pale reflection of the celebration to come.
Not as of old a little child, To bear and fight and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun That lights the morning sky. (st. 2)
Christ came in deepest humility. He had to. That’s because we, in our sin, were at “rock bottom.” We couldn’t fall any further than death, even eternal death by sin. So Christ came to humble Himself and become “obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8). But now God has “highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name…” (Philippians 2:9). And He will come again, “crowned with glory like the sun…”
Oh, brighter than the rising morn When Christ, victorious rose
And left the lonesome place of death Despite the rage of foes. (st. 3)
If the stable in which Christ was born speaks of His humility for us, and the manger in which He was laid looks ahead to His cross, then the glorious angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest…” (Luke 2:14) also point ahead to His resurrection triumph on Easter morning. But even the glory of Easter is only but a down payment on the glory to come when Christ comes again. Christ is “the first fruits” of those raised from death, but “at His coming all those who belong to Christ” shall be raised (1 Corinthians 15:23). Do you see how the best is yet to come?
Oh, brighter than that glorious morn Shall dawn upon our race
The day when Christ in splendor comes And we shall see His face. (st. 4)
John tells us, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is.” (1 John 3:2b). Oh, we have been given so much already, it is true, but do you see how there is so much more to come? I know that at times in the church we have to “slog it out,” that serving the Lord Jesus as a pastor or teacher or DCE or deaconess or baptized believer in your vocation is never easy. Jesus didn’t promise it would be. In face, He makes it clear that it can be difficult, but He does promise it will be worth it and that He will never abandon us. In the words of the Gospel, when things look their worst, He tells us to “look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
The King shall come when morning dawns And light and beauty brings.
Hail, Christ the Lord! Your people pray: Come quickly, King of Kings! (st. 5)
Christmas is coming, yes it is! May your celebrations point you and the people you love to the wonderful gift of God in Christ born for us! And this gift is given, is truly given, over and over again, when we hear His Word of peace and receive again His body and blood, trusting His promise. In the midst of our death, He gives His life, makes us alive forever. Still, there’s so much more to come, isn’t there? We will see Jesus, coming again! Even so, come quickly, King of Kings!
May God’s Spirit fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you and yours receive a wonderful celebration of our Savior’s birth! Merry Christmas to all!
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President
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