O Come, O Come Emmanuel (printable and reflection)

(I’m an ENFP which means I have 375% more ideas than I have time for.  Yesterday I owed you a hymn reflection and printable, today I owe you a church planting post.  Our family has been down with the stomach bug all week so you’re getting the hymn because it’s what I need to write.  I promise to follow through more in 2014, refer back to line one of the this post and believe accordingly.)

We’re 4 days out from Christmas and I don’t know about you but I’m already sick of it. Not the Jesus part. The Rest of it.

The shopping, to do list, grocery run, stomach bug, mall frenzy, 72 email ads, cheap plastic side of it.

The part where you stop and go “wait, isn’t this supposed to be about Jesus?  Where’s my silent night?”

The part where you wonder how so much hate and division can be flying around between people who claim to celebrate the same baby this whole season is supposed to be about.

The part where you’re doing too much in the hopes that it will make everything feel okay.

The part where you can’t even fathom a holiday gathering without someone you’ve lost, where the thing you want for Christmas is certainly not going to happen.

The parts where our hearts are still in exile for either a healing that hasn’t come or a truth we’re sorely missing.

These are the parts that weigh on me while I’m standing in line at the store wondering why someone would pay an extra $5 for a gift card holder that will get immediately thrown away or while I’m sitting on my couch picturing Christmas scenes I want but can’t have.

These are the parts into which I need to pray this hymn. (listen to it here)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And Ransom Captive Israel
That mourns in Lowly Exile here
Until the son of God appears

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

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

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

O come desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid thou our sad division cease
And be thyself our King of Peace

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

  A background of pain underneath the cry of the weary world, some of our most painful words with our cry scrawled over top, digital art that made me shake as I created it. You can print this out as an 8×10 or do what I’m going to do, save it as the home screen on your phone to remind you that Jesus is the cry of our most broken places. 

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t always my favorite Christmas hymn, but it is now.  It’s an aching, a cry for salvation that has already, but not yet happened.

It speaks of a nation in exile, unable to sing it’s songs in a foreign land where they are aching and stuck.

It was originally written in latin during the middle ages and over the past 800 years everything and nothing has changed.  We still ache, we still observe advent and recognize that while the baby has been born to us, there is so much he has yet to set right.  

The other day I was talking with my daughter Noelle about advent and getting ready for Jesus to be born.

“But Mom, Jesus already has been born.  That doesn’t make any sense.  Why would we wait for something that already happened.”

I let her win that one for now, because is confusing, isn’t it?  He came already yet still there is so much ache we don’t understand.

We mourn, we wail, we burry our faces in our hands some days and ache his his return, now, yesterday, sooner.

There is so much wrong with the world, but we have to remember something crucial, something hopeful. Many of the places that cry out for Emmanuel are places into which we can be the bearers of his love.  We cannot ourselves undo death, take away the memory of abuse or unsay hurtful words yet we are not powerless in the darkness.

But we can feed the hungry
We can invite the homeless in
We can speak love into hate
We can sit with the grieving and meet their needs
So many of the ways in which Emmanuel will come to us, is through the hands of his people.

And as easy as it is to get discouraged, there is hope.  There is reason to rejoice, may it not be all grief for you, not all aching, may there be hope and very real places in which he comes to you as we celebrate the day that changed the world forever.

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  • Daniel McDonald

    We wait as they waited for his birth, and we wait and they wait with us for him to complete what he began. We wait as citizens of a heavenly kingdom learning imperfectly to realize his life and kingdom among our neighbors. Waiting and aching with you and wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas.

  • Mark Allman

    I saved your art to my desktop. Thanks. I think you and Kel’s church will very much be The Emmanuel Bearer church for you will present Jesus as a safe haven for all refugee’s in this world.

  • UnraveledbyGrace

    I think we were one week into December when we decided we were sick of it. So sick of it all we almost didn’t go to one of our small group Christmas parties. It started a nice conversation about what we want Christmas to look like for our children and for our family. In an effort to keep Jesus the center of Christmas our December month has to look different and that means prioritizing how we spend our time and saying “no” to certain activities. I love the idea of celebrating Advent and waiting on our Lord to come.