O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel December 23, 2018


The O antiphon for December 23rd:

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

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! 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwell in the land of gloom, a light has shown.

What does this mean?

We don’t even know what to do with light. It has been too long.

In Eden we walked with the Lord, but we fell. He warned us we would die if we sought knowledge of good and evil. We already knew what good was, because it was all around it, and in disobeying we sought knowledge of evil. From that day, we started to die, and we are still dying.

Instead of turning to Him, we turned away. When we heard Him walking toward us in the cool of that last day in paradise, we hid, and we are still in hiding. We fled out into the wilderness, hiding our shame with animal skins, and we are still there.

We have forgotten Wisdom, and set ourselves against every prophet who came to teach us wisdom. We have scorned Adonai and broken every one of His commands. The descendants of Jesse of Bethlehem have lost the whole kingdom in their folly, and Bethlehem is least among clans of Judea. We have built between one another wall after wall and locked door after locked door, until the whole world is a prison. We have scorned the light, preferring the darkness. We rejected the Lord and demanded an earthly king, and now we have suffered under the reign of too many kings to count.

Do we dare even think what the Lord has been doing?

All of these eons of shameful human history, what has the Lord been doing?

All of this time, the Lord has been coming to rescue us.

From the time He clothed our first father and mother in animal skins and turned them out of Eden, He has been coming to rescue us.

Our Lord chose one man at one point in history, and one of that man’s descendants at another; He called to us, and led us in and out of exile to strange places. He sustained us through miracles again and again.  He taught us, gradually, as we were able to understand, though time and again we preferred the knowledge of evil. Time and again we flew in His face and sinned against His commands, and time and again He forgave us and gathered us back.

And now He is here.

He is here, among us, in hiding.

You’ll never guess the place.

Look for a woman, in a culture where women are valued as far less than men. Look for a young woman, in a culture where age confers honor. Look for a young woman of a conquered race, a race of people whose conquerors regard them as sub-human. Look for a young woman of a conquered race, from Nazareth– Nazareth, from which we all know nothing good can come. Look for her among the poor, the wife of a manual laborer. Look for a poor, young, conquered woman, who agreed to become with child by a miracle even though that might have brought her enormous danger and shame.

Our God is hiding inside of that woman.

And where is that woman?

She is here, in Bethlehem. She and her husband have been going from house to house, desperate for a place to take shelter before her time comes. Everywhere they went, they were sent away. You sent them away. I sent them away. Every one of us, at one time or another, have sent that holy tabernacle away. We all had our excuses, and those excuses seemed compelling at the time. The house is so crowded already. It is so late at night. It’s cold, and they were letting in a draft. They were poor. They smelled. They might have been dangerous.  Let those people in, and it will create dependence. She ought not to be pregnant in the first place. She ought to have been more responsible. He would never have taken her on a journey like this, if he really valued that child. Good people stay at home at times like these.

Yet again, we have chosen the knowledge of evil. We chose the darkness as our ancestors did, and brought their shame on our own houses.

And now we see a great light– a new star, shining brighter than any other star, in the darkest part of the year.

What are we to do with this light?

This light is the sign that God is coming to us. Do not hide as your ancestors did.

Leave your house, and come outside with me.

Follow the star to where it leads– not to your house or to my house, but to the dark cave where we shelter the livestock. Of course it would end up being this place. In Eden we were in harmony with all of God’s creatures. We lost that when we sinned, and we fled wearing animal skins. Now God is becoming visible among us to renew the whole fallen world, in a place surrounded by animals. Here is the woman we all viewed as less than nothing– she is the new Eve, the Eve that could have chosen evil but chose good. Her time is here. She is in labor. Her Baby is coming into the world.

God is with us. That is the meaning of “Emmanuel.”

God is among us, about to be made visible. We will all see Him, and the world will be renewed.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Behold, the time is very near.

Tonight is the last night we walk in darkness.

Tomorrow night, Emmanuel will be here.

(image via Pixabay) 

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