Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley

Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley

by Paul Chilcote, Paul Wesley Chilcote

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A volume of Advent and Christmas meditations based on the seasonal hymns of Charles Wesley. Each daily meditation, keyed to the scripture reading for the day and to portions of Wesley's texts, concludes with a brief prayer based on the day's theme. Reflective material on the hymns place Wesley in the rich soil of his Anglican heritage. Daily readings, including all

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A volume of Advent and Christmas meditations based on the seasonal hymns of Charles Wesley. Each daily meditation, keyed to the scripture reading for the day and to portions of Wesley's texts, concludes with a brief prayer based on the day's theme. Reflective material on the hymns place Wesley in the rich soil of his Anglican heritage. Daily readings, including all of these materials, are between 500-600 words in length.

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Chilcote (practice of evangelism, Duke Univ.; president, Charles Wesley Soc.) is a veritable authority on the theology and history of Wesleyanism, having written, among other books, Recapturing the Wesleys' Vision: An Introduction to the Faith of John and Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley (1707-88) was an Anglican priest and cofounder of the Methodist movement, and this brief devotional volume shrewdly approaches his theology pertinent to Advent and Christmas through the medium in which most Christians experience theology most fully and persistently: hymnody. Chilcote skillfully uses the words of many of Wesley's most appealing hymns as points of departure for devotion and reflection. [Though he shares their name, the author is not a descendent of the Wesleys.-Ed.]

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Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley

By Paul Wesley Chilcote

Church Publishing Incorporated

Copyright © 2007Paul Wesley Chilcote
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8192-2250-3



Hymns and Prayers for Advent

Advent I: Waiting in Hope First Sunday in Advent


I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the LORD more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. (Psalm 130:5–8)


Meter: 87.87

This hymn can be sung to Stuttgart, the traditional setting for this hymn.

    Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
      Born to set thy people free,
    From our fears and sins release us,
      Let us find our rest in thee:

    Israel's strength and consolation,
      Hope of all the earth thou art,
    Dear desire of every nation,
      Joy of every longing heart.

    Born thy people to deliver,
      Born a child and yet a King,
    Born to reign in us for ever,
      Now thy gracious kingdom bring:

    By thy own eternal Spirit,
      Rule in all our hearts alone,
    By thy all-sufficient merit
      Raise us to thy glorious throne.

      (Nativity Hymns, Hymn 10)


In the season of Advent we explore the ways in which God comes to us. We reflect upon the manner of God's first coming into human history in the birth of Jesus. God comes to us in the present moment in ways that surprise, challenge, and inspire us. We confess that God will return to us again when we acclaim at the eucharistic feast, "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." This season reminds us that our God is a God who comes to those who wait.

Sometimes we yearn so much for God in our lives that the expectation is almost too much for us. Our needs press in upon us. The demands of life overwhelm us. We long for God in the midst of it all. We hope, sometimes it seems beyond hope, for an appearance, a sign, a word, a presence. The Israelites, God's own people, lived in that kind of collective expectation, and Charles Wesley attempted to capture their feelings—our feelings—in this familiar Advent hymn. God comes and brings liberation from fear and sin, offering rest and peace. However, God does not offer a historic event or a momentary release. God comes to reign in us forever, to rule our hearts, and to raise us up through the power of the Spirit.

As you begin this Advent journey, what is your deepest hope? Are you yearning for something in your life? Do you seek to know and love God, even as you are known and loved by Jesus? When God comes, how might God's advent change your life? What transformation accompanies the birth of Christ anew in your heart? Ask God to reign and rule in your life, and to raise you into a joyous life of grace and peace and hope. Come, thou long-expected Jesus!


O Loving God, whose advent we celebrate throughout this journey of hope: Come, and renew our hearts and minds through the presence of the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Monday in Advent I


For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5:8–14)


Unusual Meter: 665 11

      O astonishing grace,
      That the reprobate race
      Should be reconciled!
    What a wonder of wonders that God is a child?

      The Creator of all,
      To repair our sad fall,
      From heaven stoops down:
    Lays hold of our nature and joins to his own.

      Our Immanuel came,
      The whole world to redeem,
      And incarnated showed
    That man may again be united to God!

      And shall we not hope,
      After God to wake up,
      His nature to know?
    His nature is sinless perfection below.

      To his heavenly prize,
      By faith let us rise,
      To his image ascend,
    Apprehended of God, let us God apprehend.

      (Nativity Hymns, Hymn 14)


Charles Wesley preached a valedictory sermon to the Oxford University community entitled "Awake, Thou that Sleepest" at famous St. Mary's Church in 1742. He admonished his hearers to awake from their lack of concern about spiritual needs, from satisfaction in their sin, from contentment in their brokenness, from arrogance and self-centered complacency. The sermon did not go over well, despite the fact that he encouraged the students to reclaim their true identity as God's children and to receive God's promise of light, liberation, and love to fill their lives. Charles lamented that so many seemed to prefer the darkness.

If we have eyes to see, however, aroused by the light of Christ, we wake to an astonishing grace. God does not wait for us to make the first move. Even as we sleep, the Spirit works in our lives to arouse us from our slumber. Countless acts of mercy, love, and grace surround us day in and day out. God attempts to get our attention in events, through the influence of other people, in sign-acts of love in the church. But most importantly, God wakes us up by coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Like the first light of dawn, the beams of this marvelous Light dance around us. The light breaks into the darkness of our sleep and awakens us to a new reality in our lives.

This Light reveals that you need no longer live as an alien from God. Rather, through Christ, God repairs your broken life and welcomes you back into a loving embrace. Not only that, as you participate in Christ—as you live in and for his way of love—God conforms you to the wholesome and life-giving image of Jesus. Known fully by God, you begin to know God, and you rise to take on the marvelous image of Christ.

Notice that the writer to the Ephesians does not say, "For once you were in darkness, and now you have seen the light." No, a much larger vision captured his imagination! Because of the incarnation of God in Christ, you have been given the awesome privilege and responsibility of &I

Excerpted from COME, THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS by Paul Wesley Chilcote. Copyright © 2007 by Paul Wesley Chilcote. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Dr. Paul W. Chilcote has been involved in theological education on three continents, serving as a missionary with his wife Janet in Kenya, and as a charter faculty member of Africa University in Zimbabwe. Dr. Chilcote previously served as Nippert Professor of Church History and Wesleyan Studies at Methodist Theological School in Ohio and more recently helped to launch the new campus of Asbury Theological seminary in Florida. He is the author of nine books, the most recent of which include Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books), Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women (Kingswood Books), The Wesleyan Tradition: A Paradigm for Renewal (Abingdon Press), Recapturing the Wesley’s Vision (InterVarsity Press) and Changed from Glory into Glory (Upper Room Books). He serves as a unit editor in The Works of John Wesley project, is president of The Charles Wesley Society, and enjoys a special relationship with Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon as a Benedictine Oblate. Dr. Chilcote is a frequent speaker and workshop leader in applied Wesleyan studies, particularly in the areas of spirituality, worship, discipleship, and evangelism.

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