“Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant…”

Why have I never really thought about this before? Why have I never stopped to wonder why the author of this very familiar Christmas hymn chose to use the word triumphant?

The “joyful” part I get. The “come and behold” invitation seems appropriate. But triumphant? Isn’t that a word reserved for Easter morning?

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to see that the word triumphant is a very appropriate Christmas word. The King of Heaven had come to earth! Sure, He was “disguised” as a newborn baby, and the circumstances and birthplace situation were less than ideal. But angels were proclaiming glory, shepherds were bowing down and a spotlight in the form of a big star was burning overhead. The baby’s arrival signaled the beginning of the greatest rescue of all time!

I still love the songs that talk about mangers, deep and dreamless sleep, all things calm and bright, the world in solemn stillness. I love the candlelight services and I’d love to see the world go quiet with some softly falling snow.

But I don’t want the triumphant part of Christmas to slip by unnoticed, especially when the songs have been sung, the presents have been opened and the big meals have been consumed. When Christmas day is over for another year, I want one word and one thought to remain.


Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! Psalm 47:1

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37


Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from the book – “God Is In the Manger”

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. Luke 2:6

The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1


Do I need decorations and lights to get into the Christmas “spirit”?

That’s the strange question that came to my mind this past Saturday morning as I pondered whether or not that would be the day I’d haul out the boxes of garland and lights and the pre-lit fake tree. I sat at my dining room table and looked out into the living room that has looked basically the same since I took down the Christmas decorations last January.

It’s even harder to get into a holiday mood here in Florida where the temperature is a balmy 80 degrees and the holiday sweaters will make you do just that – sweat.

I wrote last week that I wanted to reflect more about the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and that I wanted to be reminded of the longing of the world before that baby arrived in Bethlehem after years and years and years of waiting for Him.

So maybe an undecorated living room two weeks before Christmas is the way to really do that. Maybe we need a December equivalent of Good Friday. Maybe we need a day to think about the darkness of a world without the Light before we get the warm fuzzies from ornaments and wreaths and songs about mangers.

If your house doesn’t have its tinsel and lights yet, if your kitchen doesn’t smell like gingerbread and you haven’t gotten out your holiday sweater, it may actually be a good thing. It may be that God is giving you the chance to experience a few moments of sensory quiet to think about how dark it was before the Father of lights sent that baby to Bethlehem.

And then when the decoration boxes finally do come out and the music is loudly proclaiming “Joy to The World” and the kitchen smells like all things good, maybe it will mean more because you let the undecorated days give you the Christmas spirit too.

I did.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

… the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Isaiah 60:19

That was the true Light, which gives light to every man coming into the world. John 1:9


I’m still learning about this whole thing called “Advent”. I just haven’t attended churches that formally recognized and named this pre-Christmas season before now.

But I’m liking it so far.

I like the idea of a season of reflection and preparation. I like the idea of preparing my heart for Christmas. It’s good to be reminded of the longing and the waiting and the expectation of God’s people. When I get caught up in my own longing and waiting, it seems silly in light of waiting for the Messiah.

They were waiting for Jesus! They were waiting for redemption and rescue – things I already have, and too often forget to be thankful for. It’s hard to imagine being without a Savior, being without comfort and joy.

So I’m going to really try to be more intentional over the next few weeks. I’m going to stop and think and reflect more. Prepare more.

And expect more.

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 forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”, by Charles Wesley 1745

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Luke 21:28

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19

For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:2