In the traditional church calendar (used mainly by liturgical denominations), December is Advent season, the time of year leading up to Christmas. Advent literally means “coming”, and in the evangelical churches I’ve attended (and there have been several, because I’ve moved a lot), it has been seen as a preparation for the celebration of Christ’s first coming. But in my childhood church there was an equal or greater focus on His second coming. I remember how much I loved singing some of the Advent hymns that focus on Christ’s return as King, like this one, Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates. But what I didn’t remember until I looked up the words last week was the way it also focuses on giving Christ rule over our individual hearts. Did I ever pay attention to those verses or really understand them as a kid? I don’t think I did then, but I do now, and I want this to be my heart attitude this Advent, and all year round.
Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!
A Helper just He comes to thee,
His chariot is humility,
His kingly crown is holiness,
His scepter, pity in distress.
O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes!
Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven?s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.
Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to Thee we open wide;
Let us Thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.
Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
Until our glorious goal is won;
Eternal praise, eternal fame
Be offered, Savior, to Thy Name!
Words: Georg Weissel, 1642; translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1855