The biblical Christmas story is much darker than we like to remember it. The faith of the characters - Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna, the shepherds and the magi - is admirable only because of the fear and doubt they had to fight. Often we forget how dangerous the story really is. They faced threats to their reputations and their lives, as they threatened the power structure of culture and Herod and Rome.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel is not a happy bubbly song. I like this because often life isn't either.
While it addresses the realities and the harshness of life in this fallen world and the sin we struggle against...
captive, lonely exile, Satan's tyranny, depths of hell, gloomy clouds of night, death's dark shadows, sad divisions...it also is full of hope.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!Joy, as described in the Bible, isn't happy and bubbly.
free, save, give victory over the grave, Day-spring cheer our spirits, disperse [darkness], open wide our heavenly home, close the path to misery, be the ensign of your people, end our sad divisions, be Thyself our King of Peace.
- Joy is having lost all family and possessions and wealth and yet declaring "I know my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth."
- Joy is sitting in a jail cell, awaiting execution, and encouraging other believers to rejoice and fight the good fight of faith.
- Joy is dying, not having yet arrived, and yet looking forward to that which is unseen.
- Joy is coming to earth and enduring the cross, scorning its shame, that the world might be redeemed and reconciled.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel! God is with us! He is here, and He is coming.