Friday, December 22, 2017

Close the Path to Misery

During this Christmas season, our pastor has offered a series of sermons revealing the truth of the gospel through carols. While delving into the deep message of the rather uncheerful old song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” these particular words urged me, as often happens, to employ them as a title. And where there’s a title, there’s a story. Or in this case, a blog post. 

As our pastor noted, the ancient hymn came out of the dark ages, and offers a cry for redemption. But redemption has come by the strong act of God becoming a man, dying as our substitution, and resurrecting to give us life. And yet we struggle on, awaiting the Day He comes again. Redeemed, yet awaiting our redemption, we remain on a path of misery. Is misery a formidable word to describe our current state? For some, perhaps. For others, the holidays only increase their customary despair.

This Christmas standard, by no means comparable with the holly jolly tunes we prefer to sing during the festive season, fills us with a quiet, hopeful moment of reflection. Our Lord has come. Our Lord is coming! A Christian’s great expectation, and yet the words seem to speak to God’s chosen of nation of Israel. They speak of the Messiah. They are fulfilled by the coming of Emmanuel—God with us—who was born of a virgin in the city of Bethlehem. The One who came to redeem all mankind will come again. Not as a baby, but as our King. And in our prolonged anticipation of the Second Advent, we all find ourselves in varying levels of distress. Of misery.

Watching the news, reading commentaries on the significance of what is happening in Jerusalem, I pray the words of the old Christmas hymn become the longing of the people of Israel, of the people of all nations. As Israel is blessed, so are the nations blessed. Our King is coming for all who believe. He will open wide our heavenly home and close the path to misery.

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.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of Might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times didst give the law,
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.

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.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

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. 

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