Encouragement for the Journey
Greetings fellow traveller
O Come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the son of God appear.
This Advent hymn says God comes for everyone — the joyous and the grieving, those who celebrate and those who mourn. This message about God’s coming speaks to the one who has lost a family member. God comes to the woman who feels in exile in her own marriage, for the man who grieves the loss of life dreams. God comes to the child who lives on the street, for the parents who struggle to feed and clothe their children.
God comes to the one whose loneliness or depression intensifies every Christmas. Emmanuel — God-with-Us — comes to comfort the grieving, the mourning, the sad, the lonely. This promise awaits us and all those who mourn — and we rejoice.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
But this rejoicing, this gratitude to God, does not take away our feelings. This Advent hymn does not say to a hurting person, “Get over it. You’ve been sad long enough. Be happy and come to the party.” It says that Emmanuel — God-with-Us — is coming to us, to meet us wherever we are — happy or sad, joyous or grieving. God comes to stand with us, whatever our condition. And we thank God for that promised gift of presence.
Rejoice! Emmanuel comes to the sad and the lonely person. God stands with us, no matter what we are feeling or experiencing.
Rejoice! God does not mind that we are grieving or mourning. In fact, God comes especially for the least and the lost.
Thanks be to God.