O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Daughter has learned the first verse of this carol, and she’s heard me sing two other verses as well. She recognizes it when she hears it on CDs or the radio, too.

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

It’s an Advent carol; Advent is the season of the church year in which we contemplate the promise of Messiah’s coming.

I’ve been participating in a Bible study group that has been reading Isaiah this year. It’s one of my favorite books. There’s so much in it — a call to abandon the idolatry of trusting in anything other than God, to practice justice and righteousness, and a warning that exile waits if the people continue unrepentant. Even then God is still bent on redemption — he will destroy those who have tried to destroy his people, and he will bring the people back from exile and deliver them from idolatry and unrighteousness.

And how?

Through a child — a little branch from the old stump of David’s dynasty — one who will suffer while serving his people — one on whom all our iniquity will be laid, by whose stripes we will be healed.

What child is this?

Emmanuel means, “God with us” — ordinarily it’s enough to just say it means God will not abandon his people but remain with and for them, but God does one better and literally — in the flesh — comes to be with us.

If you celebrate, Merry Christmas to you!

Whether you do or do not celebrate, may I invite you to consider again who this Jesus is, and whether or not he might have something to say about your exile.