Sunday Dec. 1

Sunday, December 1, 2019. 
Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates by Georg Weissel 1642 trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1855.

Lift up your heads, ye might gates;
behold the King of glory waits;
the King of kings is drawing near;
the Savior of the world is here.

When I was in seminary I used to go to lunch with a friend.  Being young men we sometimes engaged in a bit of competitive eating -- either by choosing something hard to finish because of the volume (Pizza Hut had a "deal" where if you ate two whole pizzas: one large and one medium, they would give you a small pizza for free); or sometimes we would choose strange ethnic foods which were not familiar and challenge one another to finish the plate.  We would say to one another as the eating became difficult, "Just keep your head down and finish!"

As I think back on that I can also see how much of my life is lived by the "just keep your head down and finish" principal.  It is part of the rat-race in which most North American Christians live.  Working hard to get ahead, or maybe just to try to keep the creditors at bay.  I imagine that life in the ancient kingdom of Israel was not very different.  Most everyone was just trying to get ahead and make a living, and I am sure that they too were prone to keep their heads down.

The 17th century hymn Lift up your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates is a paraphrase of Psalm 24:7-9.  The Psalm says,
Psa. 24:7    Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.

As we begin our Advent journey we would do well to pause and lift our heads.  Maybe we pause from shopping.  Maybe we pause from cleaning in preparation for hosting family & friends. Maybe we pause in our tenacious pursuit of "more" and lift our gaze from immediate tasks to behold that the king of glory is waiting.  Our Savior is coming and we do well to lift our attention from the stream of immediate duties & distractions in order to be aware of the coming of the Love of God incarnate.

Daily Collect:
Lord God, last Lord’s Day we proclaimed you "Christ the King."  Your arrival is cause for great rejoicing because you are a peculiar kind of king.   You rule with justice, and mercy, and humility, and self-sacrificial service to the world.  May we who are awake to your coming lift up our heads and may we keep you ever before our eyes so that we can see when and how we might join you in the redemption of the world.  In the name of the King of Glory who awaits our attention, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

Paul Lang