3 December Wake, O wake! (H&P 249)
Do you remember the interminable days of childhood when something exciting was on the horizon? Christmas, or a birthday, or going on holiday, or a visit to see someone special. Time dragged, leading up to the big event – and then it was morning and the long-awaited day began.
This hymn celebrates the same moment of waking into a special, long-awaited moment. The first verse recalls Matthew’s parable of the bridesmaids who had waited all night to accompany the bridegroom and find the bride. ‘Wake up’, the cry goes, ‘he is coming at last!’
The second verse recalls Isaiah’s image of watchmen, straining their eyes through the darkness in the hope of seeing the Lord coming – and then they shout together for joy when they catch the first glimpse of his arrival. ‘Wake up! He is coming!’
This is the cry of Advent – ‘Wake up! Jesus is coming!’ And Jesus would use the same image to encourage his disciples to stay awake. ‘Be on guard!’ he tells them. ‘Be alert! Don’t miss out on God’s life-changing presence coming amongst us.’
Wake up! It’s an invitation to step into the fullness and richness of life unfolding before us. But it’s also an invitation to become more aware of the wrong that is happening around us. COP26 is described as a ‘wake-up call’ to the peoples of the world to change our polluting lifestyle. The global pandemic could be seen as a ‘wake-up call’ to reset our systems for distributing vaccines. This too is an Advent theme. Jesus comes to be our judge, so that we can ‘wake up’ and change our ways while we have the chance, so that we can celebrate Jesus’ coming to the full because our hearts and minds are aligned with his.
help us to stay awake to the signs that you are near,
help us to wake up to the ways our world needs to change,
as we wait for you to come amongst us. Amen