Today’s song for the fourth and final Sunday in Advent is “Like You Promised” by Amber Brooks. I think this is a great song for an Advent that looks ahead to Christ’s coming and the promise of the Holy Spirit. It’s one of those songs that remind us that not only is there an Advent that commemorates Jesus’s first coming, but we also have something which we can anticipate. (Christine D’Clario also sang a Spanish version, which I also love).
Like You Promised:
Stir these stagnant waters of my soul
Merge me with Your river which springs life
I don’t have all the right words to say
That will provoke You to want me
Anymore than you already do
So won’t You come
Come like You promised
Pour out Your Spirit
Pour out Your Spirit
Come into my darkness where I hide
Pull me into Your arms Your arms of peace
Reaching past my hiding
Oh, reach out to my running
Oh, Lord, come fill my soul with Your love
You love like a Father
You love like a brother
You love like a Lion
Fierce Like no other
You violently chase me
Down, to embrace me
In who You are
In my tradition, one of the most important concepts is REVIVAL, and that’s where my head would first go when listening to this song: Holy Spirit come! But, although this is very much an invocation of the Spirit, it is within the context of LOVE. The writer of the song is pleading for the Holy Spirit to come with love. And that is the theme of the fourth Sunday in Advent.
This song reminds us:
- We find true life and acceptance in Jesus.
When our souls are “stagnant,” Jesus is a river flowing with life. When I am apathetic and just not feeling much excitement or passion or joie de vivre (joy of living), even when I’m completely burned out, I need the reminder that I can drink from this river and be refilled. Jesus told a Samaritan woman–around the water cooler, because clearly that’s where all the deep convos take place–that He was the source of living water, and anyone who drinks from His water would never thirst (John 4:10-14, NRSV).
Water is one of the main sources of life. The majority of the surface of the earth (60%-80%) is covered with water. Similarly, about 70% of our bodies are filled with water. If we become dehydrated because we have not consumed water for a long period of time, we could die. Yet, Jesus says that the water that He has to offer is greater than the water that we drink here.
Revelation 22 gives us an image of the River of Life, which flows through the New Jerusalem:
“Then the angel[a] showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev. 22:1-2)
The water that flows through the city (New Jerusalem) flows, as water does, through the ground and down into the roots of the trees. However, when this water seeps into the roots, it results in healing. The fruits that grow from those trees, having absorbed the nutrients (well, more than just nutrients–divine healing) from the water, result in healing and restoration for all people who eat them.
In addition to the healing and revival–of our souls, that is–that comes from Jesus, we also find unconditional love and acceptance. God loves us and wants us more than we can imagine. We don’t have to convince God to love us. We don’t have to strive to make ourselves worthy of God’s desire. God loves us because He is our parent and we are God’s children.
Intellectually, I know that you love me. I know that it is not dependent on me or anything I do. But sometimes I just need reassurance. Send Your Spirit to me. Fill me with life again, because sometimes I don’t feel like I can make it, and I can’t tell that You’re there.
2. God is capable of finding us wherever we are, even if we try to hide.
I’m one of those people that will–quite unproductively, I may add–intentionally hide when I’m feeling at my worst because I don’t want to talk to anybody. It’s extremely unhealthy and unwise, but I will smile and make small talk and get all my work done, all while hiding whatever is bothering me. And unless someone is particularly inquisitive–incessantly so–no one will ever know.
But it’s different with God. And deep down, we know this. That God is just waiting for us to let Him into our hiding places so He can heal what’s broken. Brooks pleads with God to break into her hiding place, to shine His light in her dark places; to embrace her with His arms of peace.
Isolating ourselves doesn’t change anything. It isn’t helpful. It doesn’t bring healing. We find health and wholeness in God’s presence, whether that’s at the altar or among trusted friends who bear God’s image.
God, help me to break down my walls and to let You in. You know that when I’m hiding, or not praying, or choosing to check out and withdraw from my chosen community that that is when I need You the most. Let the light of Your Spirit break into my darkness.
3. God’s love is furious and insistent.
Weird words to use to describe a good God–especially the One we’ve been calling the Prince of Peace this month. But our multifaceted, complex God is insistent on loving us, even when we don’t want it. God loves us like a father is supposed to love us. Tenderly, providing for our needs, protecting us. God loves us like a brother–playfully, with levity and lightheartedness, yet also defending us fiercely. (I’m just guessing here; I’ve never had a biological brother, but I do have a best friend who is very much like a brother to me).
God also loves us like a lion–which reminds me I really need to either watch or read The Chronicles of Narnia to do a better characterization of Aslan. But, lions, especially lionesses, are known for the ferocity with which they love and defend their cubs.
God, thank You for loving me. Thank you that Your love is not only familiar and comforting, but also insistent and even violent. You’re the Shepherd who will leave the 99 sheep in the pasture just to go back and find the one that is lost. You break down my walls and shine into my dark places with Your all-consuming love. Come. Pour out Your Spirit and fill me again with Your love.