God with Us
I really do enjoy Advent. There is something about a season dedicated to a time of expectation that appeals to me. We recognize that the world we know and live in, while beautiful and glorious, is missing something that we are in deep need of; and we become prayerful and hopeful about it.
The hymns we sing in Advent are among my favorites. I can’t wait each year to sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. The ancient, 11th century Latin melody is almost hypnotic – and the words are vibrant, longing, hopeful, and expectant.
The ask – a prayerful insistence that bespeaks almost desperation but not quite, more a humble understanding that we are in need of the one who came before to show us the way – is simply to Come. Repeating that word over and over again – come – is a powerful way to express our hunger and humility.
The object of our ask, the actor whom we seek and without whom we feel incomplete, is Jesus. Each verse gives him a name, a title – always a recognition of what he brings to complete us.
He is Emmanuel – God with us called to ransom captive Israel.
He is our Wisdom from on High who order all things.
He is the Key of David who can open wide our heavenly home.
He is the Day-Spring asked to cheer us by his advent here.
He is the Desire of Nations who will bind in one the hearts of humankind.
I sang this yesterday while worshiping with the good people at Federated United Church of Christ in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. I could not help but sing out with full voice – as if the world depended on it.
My heart was heavy with the recognition of our deep political and theological divisions that the recent Presidential election only made worse.
65 million refugees are roaming the globe today without a home and almost without hope. Having visited refugee resettlements in Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine only recently, there was a heightened awareness of this phenomenon.
Talk of Muslims registering and reports of the massive increase in hate crimes since the election weighed heavy on my soul and spirit.
Appointments by the president-elect of an EPA director who promises to dismantle historic commitments to environmental safety, of a Secretary for Education who wants to defund public schools, of a Chief Strategic Officer who is a blatant and unapologetic misogynist, of Supreme Court justices who will threaten to take away women’s reproductive rights, and a homophobic Vice-President who announced he wants to undo our historic commitment to marriage equality were all swirling around me yesterday.
I’m not sure I ever meant it more than I did yesterday: O Come, O come Emmanuel.
God, be with us.
Gentle souls, stay strong and hopeful. Live each day in a spirit of expectant hope. Walk each uncertain step with the firm belief that God is with you. Trust in God’s abiding love, and let that love be the antidote to the fear and hatred that abound. And may such love build an expectation of better days as we travel hopefully Into the Mystic.