Yesterday morning at Crossing we sang this song. How many times have I heard it - and heard it - and turned it because I had heard it too much? Yesterday, as the sermon started, this song was still fresh in my head, so half of my sermon notes are on this hymn (don't worry, Dustin, I can multitask)
I am very blessed this year to be in a church that puts so much emphasis on advent (and going to another church at night that puts equal emphasis on it). In the past I've been in churches that talk about advent and Jesus' birth and preach about hope, peace, love, etc...and how to deal with family during the holidays, spending too much money, etc. But...this year it is very different and it is taking root in me more this season than past.
Not only are the songs we are singing the typical Christmas songs maybe arranged a little differently, done to a different beat or tune - but we are also still singing songs focused on the Cross of Christ and His return. You already have gotten a glimpse into "Glory Be!" - my fave this holiday season. But, now you get a chance to get some thoughts on another one (and maybe even another one or two before the season is through).
This is a familiar tune to most of you reading this blog:
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel - His coming brought freedom from bondage (as we saw in part at the Exodus, freedom from captivity in the OT, and we will see in completion at the end of time). But, for day to day purposes - His coming, His "being with us" allows us to battle the things that hold us bondage: addictions, sin, people-pleasing, laziness, etc.
O come, thou Wisdom from on high, who orderest all things mightily - With so many things going on in politics and the economy, even down to the Heisman Trophy winner and prices of plane tickets and how my biscotti or brownies or steaks turn out this week - Jesus, the personification of Wisdom dwelling among us, orders all things. He just doesn't order the big important things - He orders the daily, mundane things - all for His glory and our good.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadows put to flight - Holidays are very tough for people who have lost loved ones this year. In a way this season at home will be a little sad because my brother and sister in law are leaving for 4 years to go to Cameroon to magnify Jesus. I won't see them except maybe once or twice during that time. But - Jesus came and was God with Us so they could go to Cameroon, help people medically, and magnify Jesus through counseling missionaries. There is no reason for gloom!
Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery - this is actually the line that I wanted to write down while I was singing it. Earlier in the day I had to make a conscience choice to accept God's provision and shield of a LACK of a good thing in my life (Ps 84.11) instead of dwelling on what I didn't have that another had received. Then as I thought about this line in light of that - some would think the road they are on is misery (like sometimes I think). But, some times the "path to misery" is for our sanctification. He does not always close that path. While Jesus was "with us" He experienced so much misery and pain - He never said we wouldn't have - contrary - He definitely said we would face trials and troubles. But, in those trials and troubles: financial, family, relationships, jobs, indwelling sin, etc - He is "God with us".
O come, Desire of nations - This is still probably my favorite line in the whole song. He is the Desire of all the nations! As St. Augustine said this thing about our hearts being restless till they rest in Thee. They just don't know it yet. All were created by their Maker. That Maker is their Desire. We have an obligation. I know in the coming year this will happen in SE Asia, Central Asia, Cameroon, Louisville, RDU, St. Aug, etc. Where will you go to make Him Magnificent? 2 enlarge of the glory of God through Jesus like Mary did (see, Dustin, I was listening).
And as the refrain says - may we REJOICE because our God is with us - Emmanuel - and praise Him He is coming again - Come quickly Lord Jesus