Sunday, December 13, 2015

Grace: Advent Hymns

Sunday Grace: from Advent Hymns - 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.

I usually don't write very much (or at all) for Sunday posts. 'Day of rest', etc. But I saw this article on 'OCOCE' and thought it was worth sharing. 

Advent is a complicated season, full of joys and sorrows.

The grief of a first Christmas without grandparents; 
the relief of having a brother home and not deployed; 
the stress of packing and planning and travelling; 
the quiet joy of a morning spent under Moravian stars and stained glass; 
the loss of everything I've missed out on this week, this season, this year;
the delight of hot coffee and old movies and good friends... 

Advent is a complicated season. We wait for a Savior who has already come, but who has promised to return. We rejoice in the Salvation that has already happened, but long for a world restored from sin and brokenness. 

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we put ourselves in the shoes of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and all the pre-Christian saints. We ponder the promises. We strain to see the dawn of salvation. But we know that when it comes, the waiting will not be over. 
The common tune, linked with these lyrics in 1851 by Thomas Helmore, captures the plaintive mood of longing. It is not the same as the exuberant “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” or the vigorous and bounding, “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.”  
It is a wonderful thing that there are Christmas carols that are written for the real world of sorrowful joy, as well as the real world of exuberant joy. 

O Come Emmanuel is a good example, but better still is Longfellow's I Heard The Bells. I don't know of a hymn, Christmas or otherwise, that so well asks the questions 'what about pain', 'what about grief'. And declares the emphatic answer: The hope of the world has come, and lives.

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