O come, Thou Day-Spring, 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, O Come, Emmanuel,” with roots in the Roman church as far back as the twelfth century, is one of our oldest Christmas carols. It is so old, its author is unknown, because there have most likely been numerous authors as the song has been written and passed down in pieces. It is a true Advent hymn, gathering its impetus from the anticipation of the savior of Israel who would turn out to be the savior of the world.
We must never forget that we who are non-Jews are the kid-brothers, kid-sisters of this whole operation. Jesus was promised to Israel. We didn’t know anything about this. We are the outsiders. Someone threw the doors open on the banquet. Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive Him, but to those who do receive Him, He gives power to become sons of the living God (John 1:11-13). We are the uninvited guests — the beggars at the banquet — and the rejection and ultimate death of Christ at the hands of His own people is our hope of salvation, and, because His people will eventually embrace Him, He is, therefore, the savior of the world.
And so we anticipate His coming, because we realize what would have happened had He not come. We would have no hope. It’s a yearly re-enactment of the drama of the universe, through God’s amazing plan to save the world. We joke about superhuman heroes saving the world, but with Jesus it is no joke. It is exactly what He did. And we who enjoy the benefits of this salvation — through the forgiveness of our sins, the giving of the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life — must never take any of this for granted. We have been ushered into the family through the benevolent heart of God, and at the expense of those who were originally given the promise. No other reason. So to walk through these door with even a shred of arrogance, or entitlement is the ultimate of presumption. We are most fortunate.
And so we join the ancients who long for the coming Messiah, because we realize in His coming is our hope. The rejection of Christ is the hope of the world.
HOPE. The big word of this season.
So come. Come, Emmanuel. Come, God with us. Come, hope of the whole world, and ruler of our hearts. Come.