Rector's Reflections - 20 December

Wednesday 20th December 2023

A Favourite Advent Hymn

We have now reached the sixth and final verse of the old Advent hymn, “Creator of the stars of night”.   The sixth verse reads as follows:


“All praise, eternal Son, to thee,

Whose advent sets thy people free,

Whom with the Father we adore,

And Spirit blest, for evermore”.


Today, I’m going to share a few reflections on the second line of this final verse. This line connects three interesting ideas about what it might mean to be a Christian.

The first idea is this: as Christians , we are no longer merely individuals. We have become part of  a bigger unit, the Church, and our membership of this bigger unit brings us support and encouragement, as well as additional responsibilities.  There are many different phrases to describe the experience of being part of this bigger unit, the Church, and one of these phrases talks of the Church as “the People of God”.  The author of this hymn refers to this phrase, and is saying that the coming of Jesus is good news not just for us as individual Christians, but for all Christians everywhere- in other words, for all God’s people.

The author of the hymn also reminds us that the Church doesn’t belong to its members, or to its hierarchy. It belongs to Jesus. Hence the “people of God” belong to Jesus , and Jesus’ “advent sets thy people free”.   It is often easy to forget that the Church is not our own property, to do with as we see fit. It belongs to Jesus, and Jesus graciously allows us to have a share in it.

And finally, the author of the hymn writes of Jesus’ coming in terms of an event which “sets [his ] people free”. Free from what?  Free from fear and hopelessness,  free from the power of  sin, free from death and despair.  But Jesus’ freedom isn’t simply freedom “from” oppression: it is also a freedom “for” for a new start - a liberating force which enables us to live lives of hope and purpose. It is a journey from darkness into light.

I wonder: where do we need to be set free in our lives, as individuals and as communities? And where  do our churches need to be set free, in order to enjoy the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God?

Powered by Church Edit