I was thinking about a song this morning, and then I heard it played (don’t you love when that happens?).
The song is called Welcome to Our World, originally by Chris Rice, but it’s been performed by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, among others. It’s a song of invitation, asking–and realizing the need for–God to come and exert His influence amidst the trials of our lives.
Kind of an odd thought, when you think about it. Welcome to our world?
“Hello, Creator of the Universe, welcome to this planet, from we who are of the dust of the earth.”
It made me think of another song, a classic hymn: This is My Father’s World. It’s a statement of the comfort to be had in acknowledging that God reigns supreme, that all of creation declares this truth, and that although there are evils and trials now, His rule is not mitigated.
We are in the season of Advent, anticipating the celebration of Christmas, which is now just two weeks away. At this time, we are often encouraged to poise ourselves to welcome our Lord. “Let earth / receive / her King!”
What kind of a welcome are we laying out? Is there a red carpet? A cocktail reception with more focus on the hors d’oeuvres and open bar than on the guest of honor? A feast with guests who come mainly for the food? A party jam-packed with people so that one can barely move and mingle? Are we meeting Him at the airport and bringing Him to our homes in pomp and circumstance and spectacle? Or is there merely an unlocked door and we’re okay if He just lets Himself in whenever He arrives?
This season is not actually about us permitting Him to enter into our space; this place is His. He’s not returning home, either. Rather, He’s coming to a place that He created and entrusted to us. We should be inviting Him to come and put His stamp visibly, undeniably onto this world, onto our lives. “Thy Kingdom come on earth (as it is in heaven).”
For Christians who believe that Christ is coming back again someday, Advent should be even more significant. The birth of any noteworthy historical figure can be acknowledged, appreciated, celebrated even. But there is only One whose Second Coming can be anticipated.
Jesus came the first time with a rather meager welcome. As Welcome to Our World says, “hope that You don’t mind our manger” and (ironically) “how I wish we would have known” (that You were coming). What if Christians today viewed each Advent season as a practice, a dress rehearsal for our response to His coming again? As we recall His first arrival, we have the chance to consider how we are welcoming Him into our lives today, and also how we look forward to His return.
And, we can also contemplate how we’re doing with His world, the planet and the lives and the people and the things that He created, but that He has given into our care while He’s been away. Have we done well? Are we excited to have the Master take up residence with us once again? Or would we sheepishly prefer Him to stay away, as we’ve been negligent, ignorant, or ungrateful in our duties?
So, what tidings of welcome are we offering to the King of Kings this Christmas? And what are we hoping He’ll do once He gets here?