December 23, 2021
O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the one whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.
Two days before Christmas, in this Advent season of waiting and longing, the seventh, and final, name for the Christ (or Light, or Love, if you prefer) proclaimed in the ancient prayer-song of the O Antiphons is found in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.
Emmanuel: “God with us.” Of the four stories of the Christ, the good news of the gospels, Matthew and Luke are the two evangelists that include the birth story, and their telling is quite different from each other. In Matthew’s narrative, “God with us” comes in the midst of a Roman occupation with an unwanted male infant that King Herod tries to kill and so must be hidden. “God with us” occurs in dreams that lead Joseph to take his family to Egypt and wisemen to disobey Herod’s orders and “go another way.” Jesus, the Christ, becomes “God with us” as the new Moses who will lead God’s people not out of Egypt but out of themselves and into the Light.
For Luke, “God with us” appears to the least likely—to an old woman and a teenaged girl, second class citizens, and to shepherds, third class citizens, made unclean by Jewish standards because of their care of dirty animals. “God with us” is the one who walks among the least of us, the poor and powerless, and surprises the faithful and long-waiting, Simeon and Anna. “God with us” meets us exactly where we are, as we are, with love and compassion, mercy and longing. “God with us” means we are never again alone.
Prayer: O Emmanuel, as the day of your birth draws close, help us to be still enough to receive you. Whenever we see a candle burn, a light on a tree sparkle, outside decorations glow, let us take those sights as reminders of your Light and Love upon us and upon everyone. Guide us out of ourselves and toward you, and help us to be Light-bearers to those who live in darkness, those who need to know both peace and joy. You are with us and within us, and so we can rejoice, even now. May it be so.
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.
If you would like to listen to this prayer-song, here is a link to the artist Lauren Daigle’s version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGw0QK6ICZA.
Blessings of joy and peace to you. ~ Rosemary
Photo credit Pixabay