Nothing says, "Advent is here," like the great Advent hymn "Savior of the Nations, Come" (LSB 332). That's why I insist on singing it every year on the First Sunday in Advent, just as it has been sung on this Sunday for many years and centuries, even since St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397) evidently wrote it, I presume.
Why do I love this hymn so much? Not just because it signals the beginning of Advent, however good that is in itself, but because of the strong confession of our Lord's Incarnation. Yes, "Savior of the Nations, Come" begins Advent and prepares us for Christmas by focusing our attention the real message and joy of this season: God became man to bring us back to God.
I no longer settle for the all too tame "Jesus is the reason for the season" slogan (not that I ever had, really). That my be fine when setting the record straight over against the secular, commercialized, shopping-frenzied, party-wearied version of "the season." However, for Christians, this time of year goes far deeper - gloriously deeper! - than "Jesus is the reason for the season." Yes, He is, but there's so much more. Let's talk Incarnation. Let's talk the mystery that reunites us with God Himself. Let's talk God and man being united in one Person, Jesus of Nazareth, so that we, sinners all, may be reunited with the God who loves us. That's the true and glorious reason for the season!
And without further ado, here's how the hymn "Savior of the Nations, Come" confesses the incarnational reason for the season:
Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav'n and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.
Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh--
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.
Here a maid was found with child,
Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.
Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From His pure and kingly hall;
God of God, yet fully man,
His heroic course began.
God the Father was His source,
Back to God He ran His course.
Into hell His road went down,
Back then to His throne and crown.
For you are the Father's Son
Who in flesh the vict'ry won.
By Your mighty pow'r make whole
All our ills of flesh and soul.
From the manger newborn light
Shines in glory through the night.
Darkness there no more resides;
In this light faith now abides.
Glory to the Father sing,
Glory to the Son, our king,
Glory to the Spirit be
Now and through eternity. (Lutheran Service Book, 332)