Advent is upon us! It is a time of waiting, a time of hope, a time of preparation, a time of prayer. The prayer of the Church throughout each and every Advent season is this: “Come, Lord Jesus.”
A Prayer for Advent
This refrain is seen in the Collect of the Day for both the First and Fourth Sundays in Advent. Both begin with “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come …”
This refrain is seen in the hymnody of Advent. Simply consider some of the titles in the Advent section of your hymnal:
- Savior of the Nations, Come
- Once He Came in Blessing
- Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
- Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
- The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
- Hark the Glad Sound! (The Savior comes)
- Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come
- Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Clearly, Advent is a time when we are praying for Jesus to come. Yet what so often gets lost in this Advent prayer is that this prayer does not cease at Christmas. The world uses Advent to prepare for Christmas celebrations, which is not a bad thing. Christmas is a wonderful celebration of Jesus’ coming, a true answer to prayer, which is worth preparing for and celebrating on its own. But Advent is not a season to go back in time and pray for Jesus’ first coming. We are not praying for Jesus to come as an infant.
Remember, we are not praying “Come, Christmas, Come.” We are praying “Come, Lord Jesus.” We are praying for Jesus to come in the ways He promised He would be present among us: in His Word and Sacraments, and at His ultimate return.
Jesus’ Presence in the Word and Sacraments
When we sing these Advent hymns, we are praying for Jesus’ presence among us here and now. As one hymn puts it,
Jesus comes to hearts rejoicing,
Bringing news of sins forgiv’n;
Jesus comes with words of gladness,
Leading souls redeemed to heav’n. (LSB 353:3)
Jesus is present wherever sins are forgiven. In Absolution, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, we receive forgiveness of sins. Absolution is pronounced “in the stead and by the command” of Jesus or “by His authority.” Jesus is present in Absolution, and we pray for Him to come and forgive us.
In Baptism, we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul says, “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Jesus is present in Baptism, and we pray for Him to come and wash us clean of all sin so that we may walk in newness of life.
In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives us His body and blood to eat and drink for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. He is present in, with, and under the bread and wine. We take and eat and take and drink His body and blood. Jesus is present in the Lord’s Supper, and we pray for Him to come so that we may receive His good gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.
In God’s Word, we hear the grand narrative of who God is and what He has done for His people, most particularly in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus. On the road to Emmaus, after Jesus’s resurrection, He interprets for two disciples why it was necessary for Him to suffer, die, and rise again. Luke comments on the scene saying, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Jesus is present in the Word of the Scriptures, for they are all about Him. We pray for Him to come in the Word so that we may know Him better.
Jesus’ Presence in His Return
Perhaps it is unsettling to consider, but when we sing our Advent hymns and pray our Advent prayers, we are also praying for the end of the world. We are praying for Jesus to hasten His return, to sound the trumpet, raise the dead, and usher in the new creation.
As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:14, “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence.” On the Last Day, when Jesus returns and raises us from the dead, we will be in God’s presence for eternity.
The second to last verse of the Bible records our Advent prayer as St. John writes, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Advent Prayers Year-Round
But our prayers for Jesus’ presence and return are not limited to Advent. One common table prayer used in many Lutheran homes begins with these same words: “Come, Lord Jesus ...”
We pray for Jesus’ presence year-round. We long for His return and the new heavens and new earth.
May our Advent prayers continue as they are answered in the present and until they are answered in Jesus’ return: “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Remember God’s good Word this Advent season with the Symbols of Salvation Advent series!