Christmas Carols are, in some theological circles, frowned upon. Considered musica non grata, if you will (my apologies to Latin speakers everywhere). But this God geek loves carols. Loves them. In carols, the joy, the wonder, the hope of the season finds voice.
During Advent (which starts today) and through the Twelve Days of Christmas, which end on Epiphany, I’ll share my ponderings on some carols. I promise at least one posting a week, and I hope to hear your carol thoughts as well. Just no carol hating, okay?
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…
Emmanuel: “God with us.”
As a Christian, I believe the long-anticipated Emmanuel became flesh in the person of Jesus. A Messianic child born into poverty, Jesus walked our earth, showing us the face and the heart of God. Still, I find myself still seeking an Emmanuel for right now.
Specifically, I yearn for an Emmanuel to save our nation: someone to embody God qualities our beleaguered country needs.
I look to our history: With artistry and hope that resonated God power, Thomas Jefferson inscribed the vision of a new nation onto parchment. Abraham Lincoln risked all to unify a deeply divided nation: his rectitude demonstrating each human’s God-given potential. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with eloquence in both word and deed, challenged us to live into Jefferson’s words, “All men are created equal.” King knew full well what his stand would cost him, and it did. That’s God courage.
We need that kind of leadership today. Right now. I’d hoped for it. Prayed for it. But leaders like that come rarely, and I am left with my prayers hanging in empty space. Or so I feel.
But it occurs to me that when we our leaders do not embody the God qualities our nation needs, we are called upon to cultivate those characteristics in ourselves. We become what we hoped for in another. And, in the pages of my Bible, I have the ultimate mentor: an Emmanuel for all times, including this one. Jesus.
I ached for a leader I could watch on today’s news. Instead I am challenged by a timeless text: the life, the death, and words of Jesus.
And I find that I need more courage than I currently possess.
Prayer: O Come, Emmanuel. Give us courage to live into Your best hopes for us— and for our nation. Amen.