Rejoice! Rejoice!


Despite not feeling much like it here in Colorado, Christmas is coming. During this advent season, we want to sing along with you and celebrate some of the songs of the season. Each week on the blog, we are talking about a different carol. One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been O come, O come, Emmanuel and this year I’m particularly digging this version. The minor chords setting a somber mood then building into the hopeful refrain have always spoken to me in a meaningful way. This year, as I’ve listened to dozens of different versions, the first and last verses stood out to me in a new way.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

This verse sets the stage for the place that Israel is coming from. Captive. Mourning. Lonely. Exiled. There is tension and a deep sadness that goes along with this verse. The words, attributed to John Mason Neale, drive home the profound sense of loneliness that go along with mourning and exile. There is a desperate pleading for Emmanuel, the Messiah, to come and make himself known.

Have you ever felt this?

For so many of us, this is what the holidays hold. For whatever the reason, Christmas is filled with these sorrowful emotions because of the divisions in our lives. Broken relationships, distance among families, isolation, even when surrounded by people. These are the things of modern day exile. Loneliness.

O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace

There is hope, however. This is what advent is all about: the anticipation of hope. Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us, is our hope. When we sing these words, we are pleading for the Lord to come, to be with us, to bring us out of mourning, captivity, exile. So what is the cure? Where is the hope? We see it in the final verse of Neale’s beautiful hymn.

He is our King of peace. He is the one who expels even the deepest sense of loneliness. The birth of Christ was the beginning of Israel being brought out of exile. He is the only one who can make divisions cease and bind hearts together beyond what makes sense. If you are mourning in this season, if you feel alone or in captivity, remember the hope we have in Jesus. Anticipate his coming and know that because of him, you are not alone. Emmanuel means God with us. Cry out to him, and ask that he would be close to you.  Sing these words with me today as a reminder:   

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel



P.S. As those who have hope, we are called to bring hope to others. Part of our mission at Cross Culture Church is to be a church of great neighbors who display and declare the good news of Jesus Christ. Help us do that this week by inviting someone to Christmas Village on Saturday Dec 16 from 3 – 6 PM or to our Christmas Eve Service on Dec 24 at 4 PM at Regis Groff.