Wednesday, December 12, 2012

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

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, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

"The most wonderful time of the year..." I love Christmas.  The lights, the pine, shopping, eating, tradition, family and friends - I love it all! And hopefully I'll be sharing more of my highlights in days to come.  However, this year, maybe more than other years, I've been more keenly aware that it isn't all joy and cheer for everyone.  Sometimes Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year.  Sometimes Christmas reminds us of what we lost, who we don't have, and ways we hurt.  Heartbreak still occurs during the holidays, making the contrast all the more striking.

Maybe that's why the words to one of my favorite carols gave me pause: "Rejoice."  Why? In each verse, the reason to rejoice isn't because of the presents, reindeer, snow or anything else associated with commercialized Christmas.  No, the present time being sung about is "lonely exile," "gloomy clouds," and "the path to misery!"  And I know some of us have been there or are there.  So why rejoice?  I don't think we're supposed to gloss over trails and put on a fake smile because it is Christmas.  We live in a fallen world.  Because of it we experience hardship, death, and relationships that aren't as God created them to be, and we mourn the effects of sin. 

But, there will be an end.  That is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  "Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."  What a good reminder this song was to me that Christ is what we have to rejoice about.  And unlike the Israelites being sung about, we are not just rejoicing at the thought of a Savior yet to come, he has already come!  We already know the story of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. We already know that we have a Savior, that the trials will come to an end, and that there is more for us than this fallen world.  "For unto you is a born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)  What a reason to rejoice!

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