Mourning in lonely exile. Such was the description of the Israelites, for a time exiled in Babylon, who awaited the day the Messiah would come.
The advent carol “O, Come, O Come Emmanuel” features minor chords and a contemplative tempo. It describes the human condition well.
These same adjectives described Naomi and perhaps also Ruth in the opening chapters of the book of Ruth. These women had both lost their husbands, and Naomi her two sons. They were lonely. They were mourning. And Naomi, at any rate, was in a foreign country, far from home and extended family.
Realizing how our own lives often parallel that of Naomi and Ruth, we sing this mournful song in hopes that Christmas will somehow dispel the gloom. The confident refrain: Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel, reminds us that when God chooses to come to us, there will be rejoicing. Even in our loneliest, most sorrowful moments, the idea of God With Us, or Emmanuel, is more than comforting.
When we have God with us, we have the creator and redeemer of the world living right with us. Thank you, Lord for the gift of your presence with us. There is no greater gift.
And as Christmas Day 2014 fades into memory, we look ahead to how we might model emmanuel for others. How can our presence be the personal touch that someone else needs? And who can we share time with? When we give our time, our presence to hurting people, we share God’s love and presence as well.