December 1: Thy Kingdom Come, O God
Advent is the first season in the church calendar year, in which we journey with Jesus from his conception to his coming again. We begin by waiting, listening, and directing our longings to God. In order to lean into our longing and celebrate the Messiah’s coming, our worship team has been working on a beautiful album, Long-Awaited / You Arrived, which released today! The first four tracks are songs of longing, hope, anticipation, and lament. The following five are songs of celebration and mediation on the unexpected arrival of Jesus.
To enjoy its release and engage the songs more deeply, we have connected with some writers and visual artists in our church for a multi-sensory experience—streaming audio, devotional reflections, and custom-designed coloring pages (scroll to the end) for each song. These devotionals will come out twice a week, each focusing on one song on the album. We invite you to join us over the next four weeks as we prepare for Christmas by meditating on the long-awaited arrival of Jesus, our Savior.
We begin with the first track on the album: “Thy Kingdom Come, O God” …
Break with thine iron rod, the chains of sin
Where is thy reign of peace, of purity and love?
When shall all hatred cease, as in the realms above?
Thy kingdom come, O God!
We pray thee, Lord, arise and come in might
Revive our blurry eyes, longing for sight!
Over the lands afar, darkness hovers yet
Arise, O Morning Star, arise and never set
Thy kingdom come, O God! Thy kingdom come!
O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.
You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies. You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil. You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations. You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them. You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way; yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Devotional: Trey Arbuckle
“If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience . . . In [tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
This hymn is a cry from God’s people that the world is not as it should be, and that God does not seem to be doing anything about it – “darkness hovers yet.” But importantly, it is also a cry of faith that we expect Him to come and “revive our blurry eyes.” We sing this hymn to remember that the brokenness all around us is real and that it is wrong, and we sing to stir ourselves up in faith to plead: “Thy Kingdom come, O God!”
God’s world should be full “of peace, of purity and love.” Instead, we find it full of impurity, selfishness, strife, and hatred – the same things we find in our own hearts and they seem to go uncorrected. This present darkness multiplies wickedness and covers up injustice, lulling us into comfortable passivity. Rather than fixing our eyes on Jesus and his return, we tend to focus more on immediate needs and pleasures. Instead of being appalled that darkness and evil appear to reign unchecked in the world, we are more concerned with our own amusement and comfort. We quickly grow weary of waiting for a kingdom that seems so long in coming. The temptation before us is to either retreat from or become friends with the world, to believe that what we see is all there is and all there will ever be.
Advent reminds us that “the light shines into the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” (John 1:5). The Advent season calls us back to courageous faith. Advent invites us to direct our pain and longing to the only one who can bring effective change. With broken hearts we cry out, “Where is thy reign of peace?” With feeble hands we call upon the Lord to “arise and come in might!” With longing eyes, we fix our hope: “O Morning Star, arise and never set!”
In Christ, “we are more than conquerors.”
Believing that truth empowers us to sing our songs of lament and hope in the darkness. As we sing, we commit to training our eyes to see the darkness for what it is and our hearts to believe that Day is coming. As we sing, we learn to long for His kingdom above all else. “Darkness hovers yet — Thy kingdom come, O God!”
Coloring Sheet: Ashley Haug
Members in our church have created coloring pages, which are designed for all ages and artistic ability, as a way to help you further engage with the lyrics and music. We invite you to slow down and meditate on the beauty and depth of this Advent season.Download PDF