Yesterday marked the second Sunday of Advent—the halfway point in this month-long church season.

Here at my house the Christmas tree lights twinkle in the window, the mantel boasts greenery and ornaments, and fragrant candles fill the rooms with their holiday scents, serving as symbols of the season. My Advent reader is close by too. Each day begins with a morning reading and each evening ends with a reading.

I’m struck by how idyllic this sounds in light of the pain and suffering happening across the United States and around the world. Advent must be more than a smattering of symbols and feel good emotions if it is to carry any weight or relevance to our daily lives. Thankfully, it does.

I’m reluctant to even write the words “Ferguson” because I can’t even pretend to understand or know the complexities of that situation. Yet, I know this. “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel’s” mournful lyrics promise a divine unity that is desperately needed.

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

And then there is the turmoil in the Middle East—the very part of the world where Jesus actually lived. Fear, hatred, and mistrust abound. Can Emmanuel’s peace penetrate the desperate situations there?

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

In my own life, I need to be reminded of God’s abiding presence, especially when the pressures of daily life threaten to rob me of these truths. Emmanuel’s proclamation of “dispersing the gloomy clouds of night” brings promise of a new day.

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Advent is a time of preparation. In the midst of wrapping up a semester and keeping up with my to-do lists, I can easily lose my way. The distractions are many. But when I pause and reflect on the promise of Emmanuel, my heart rejoices. What joy! What peace! What hope! The Christ Child comes for me. He comes for you.

One thought

  1. The lyrics “bid our sad divisions cease” and “who ordered all things mightily” surely also apply to our personal relationships. Our women’s Bible study group has just finished 1 and 2 Peter, a reminder to me that as we celebrate the First Advent we are looking forward to the Second Advent – and therefore “…what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11)


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