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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Today's Hymn

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 Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily:
to us the path of knowledge show;
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (tune: Veni Emmanuel)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Reflection
Recently a church member confided in me that she was having trouble sleeping because she was worried about what is currently going on in our nation and frightened about the future. Gun violence has risen; bullying and hateful actions against Muslims, people of color, refugees, and immigrants have increased; war rages in Syria; the threat of terrorism hovers; too many people are impoverished. The member said to me, “It’s Advent—I’m supposed to be happy.”

Then we talked about what a mess the world was in when Jesus was born. The Romans oppressed the Jews. There were deep ethnic divisions among people. Many were poor; some were shunned; health care was inadequate. As this hymn signifies, the people of Israel were in lonely exile, mourning their captivity. They longed for a liberator and yearned for the highest order of wisdom to rule the day.

The tune of this hymn appropriately conveys a plaintive mood, a musical match to feelings of longing, aching, yearning, hoping. We rejoice that Emmanuel, which means God-with-Us, is coming—and is indeed already in our midst. And we know that Christ’s redemption of all creation is not yet complete. The Christian life oscillates between these two poles of the “already” and the “not yet.” As scripture says, “See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! . . . As servants of God . . . through sleepless nights . . . we are treated as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:2, 5, 10). Let us not think Advent must be all jolly and jingle bells. Let us also sing the refrain with joy, grateful and confident that God is indeed with us.

Prayer
Spirit of Love, open our hearts to receive you. We lament our brokenness and seek your wisdom and healing throughout the world. Lift us up in hope and faith. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission


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