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O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Christmas is not here yet, and we wait with hope filled anticipation. My encouragement is not to rush to the Christmas joy until we have created the space to be in the Advent longing. The promise has always been, from the beginning, that Emanuel shall come to thee.

 




One of my favorite Advent carols is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I am drawn to the pleading invitation for God to come and be with us. The lyrics and the minor key communicate a mournful urgency for the Savior to enter the pain and darkness of the world.


O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel. Shall come to thee, O Israel.


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel


For the early church, the weeks leading up to Christmas were not a season of celebrations, sparkling lights, and Christmas movies, but instead a season of lament and mourning. It was a time of waiting and anticipating as the Church remembered life before Jesus’ birth. We can easily forget that the time before Christ’s birth was one of darkness and lostness for the Children of Israel.


When the prophets declared the promise of a coming Messiah, they spoke into a time of religious, political, and economic chaos. It was a time of pain and bleakness in which the hope of the world had not yet arrived. There was great uncertainty as people questioned what the future would hold. To me, the Old Testament circumstances sound all too familiar to 2020.


And Ransom Captive Israel


This has been a difficult year on so many levels and for so many people. We live in a time of political, social, and economic unrest and in a time of pandemic and death. When we see it through the lens of the advent, we are reminded of the anticipation, waiting, and hoping that there would be light in the darkness – the hope for reconciliation, health, security, and cure.


I am drawn to the phrase “Captive Israel.” I know what it is to be a captive. We can be held hostage by our fear, by our pride – the sin of self-sufficiency, by our arrogance, by the power of addictions and compulsive behaviors. We are familiar with being held in bondage and longing for freedom.


And Mourns in Lonely Exile Here


For many, this year has been marked by significant loneliness and sense of exile which the pandemic has either created, intensified, or revealed. In Advent, we are invited to mourn our losses – and in our mourning, there is hope.


Rejoice, Rejoice. Emanuel Shall Come to Thee


We hear an invitation to hope even as we wait and as we wait, to anticipate the coming light and rescue. Even when we are still surround by the chaos and uncertainty of life, we hope.


Christmas is not here yet, and we wait with hope filled anticipation. My encouragement is not to rush to the Christmas joy until we have created the space to be in the Advent longing. The promise has always been, from the beginning, that Emanuel shall come to thee (especially in 2020).


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