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O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Posted by thethousandmarch on December 21, 2012 at 8:45 PM

One of my favorite songs is O Come O Come Emmanuel. I learned this year that it is not a Christmas song, it is an Advent song. I also learned that traditionally the Christmas season does not start until December 25th and then lasts twelve days. The days before the 25th are part of Advent which is not just another name for Christmas. During advent we remember the first advent (coming) of Jesus Christ and look forward and prepare ourselves for his second advent. Thus we sing:


O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear


This is not a song of remembrance; it is a cry, a petition, a prayer. We do not simply look back upon that day 2,000 years ago when God took on the nature of a man and entered our world as a helpless baby – who most certainly crying did make because he was a real baby and even good babies cry. Jesus came to reveal God to us, to be Emmanuel--God with us. He came to fulfill the law, atone for our sins, to defeat death. He came to begin the work of redeeming this heavens and earth. But the work is not done, and he will one day return to complete it. We call out for that triumphal return of the risen king. Like captive Israel calling out for God to free them from their bondage in Egypt, their exile in Babylon, their subservience to Rome - God saves us – we call out to Christ to return and free us from our exile in this corrupted world. Restore the heavens and earth, the garden, our home. Judge sin and death, redeem.


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


The recent violence in our country, the killing of children, made me think of this song. I long for the return of Christ. I long for the redemption of the world, the end of Satan’s tyranny. Christ crush the serpent’s head, drive him from your garden, restore your creation, redeem.


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.


The redemption God brings is not simply punishment of sinners, or a forgetting what has come before. God’s power does not just stop evil. God’s redemption is a fixing and making right of all the suffering and death which has marred his creation. God makes all things work together for good. This doesn’t mean bad things are good, it means God is powerful enough to take what is intended for bad and work it for good so that when we look back the evil is defeated and the broken things are fixed. This is what I look forward to. This is what I cry out for. O come, O come, Emmanuel – do not wait too long; redeem your world, save us from our sins.


Categories: Advent, The Kingdom of God, The Gospel