4th Sunday of Advent – “Expectation and preparation”   Leave a comment

The Bible passages set for today were: 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Romans 16: 25-27; and Luke 1: 26-38.

The story in Samuel is one of the numerous stories in the Old Testament where the people of Israel have to be persuaded to repent of worshipping false gods and to turn again the The Lord. Then after God gives them victory in battle over the Philistines (always something that challenges my view of God’s interaction with history); it ends with an image that was much repeated throughout my youth and one I can gladly own for myself.  They set up a stone and called it Ebenezer – “Hitherto the Lord has helped us”.  I have always loved the reference to this in my favourite hymn, the one I have said since my teens I want at my funeral, “A sovereign protector I have” by Au­gus­tus M. Top­la­dy. To my view this must be sung to the wonderful Welsh tune Trew­en (both my Grandfathers were Welsh and Welsh spirituality touches me easily). I was going to just quote the last verse that refers to the Ebenezer but the hymn is such a complete summary of things that are important in my own faith I quote the whole:

A sovereign protector I have,
Unseen, yet forever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles, and my comforts abound;
His grace as the dew shall descend;
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.

Inspirer and hearer of prayer,
Thou shepherd and guardian of Thine,
My all to Thy covenant care
I sleeping and waking resign.
If Thou art my shield and my sun,
The night is no darkness to me;
And fast as my moments roll on,
They bring me but nearer to Thee.

Kind author, and ground of my hope,
Thee, Thee, for my God I avow;
My glad Ebenezer set up,
And own Thou hast helped me till now.
I muse on the years that are past,
Wherein my defense Thou hast proved;
Nor wilt Thou relinquish at last
A sinner so signally loved!

[Augustus Toplady, December 1774]

I had a few other thoughts coming out of today’s readings but compared to those well crafted and deeply felt words by Rev. Toplady which I claim for myself they are just noise, so I will leave today’s reflections there.

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