O come, O come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear .
shall come to thee, O Israel.
Emmanuel ~ God is with us. God comes for all of us, the sinners and the saints; the have’s and have not’s; the weary ones and the “what are we waiting for?” ones; all shades of us; all ages of us ~ God comes. This day. God comes. To meet us and to greet us. To embrace us and encourage us. To remind us always that love leads us.
For many of us there has been a mourning, an exile-place throughout this Advent season. Some of us have lost loved ones and we have journeyed through these Advent days with tender and grieving hearts. Some of us have had struggles with loss of jobs, or loss of health, or loss of focus. The writer of this carol somehow shared our tenderness of heart centuries ago. Yesterday and today meet in the reading of the words, in the singing of this song.
Faith is born this day ~ rejoice! Even if we’d heard this Bethlehem story our whole lives, we come to this day as if for the first time. This year’s journey is not the same as last year’s ~ the holding on and letting go’s of the past year have shifted our minds and spirits. And so we enter into today’s story in a new place and time.
Hope is born this day ~ rejoice! We have journeyed through these Advent days with words of encouragement and promise. From the First Sunday of Advent we have been told to stay awake, to pay attention. This one, precious life that we have been given is for a short time really. And we have this day. This rejoicing day. This day to breathe in all the beauty and wonder of what is around us. This day to look into the eyes of loved ones, and into the eyes of strangers and see the Promised One who has come.
Love is born this day ~ rejoice! Love is witnessed in so many parts of this Bethlehem story. Two parents-to-be journeying through the countryside until she could go now further, and love guided them. Shepherds watching their sheep, but seeing a once-in-a-lifetime star, choosing to follow it to the back of an inn and love guided them. Wise men journeying into a new country, following a sign of something remarkable about to happen, and love guided them. Angels singing their alleluias that filled the skies, and love guided them.
Rejoice! We are invited into this day to sing for joy and dance our alleluia’s! God’s promise to be with us ~ always ~ is born again this day. God’s love for each of us is born again this day. As Howard Thurman wrote years ago, “the work of Christmas begins” with us this day.
Wishing you health and wonder on this Christmas day and into 2015. God bless you and your household.
Breath prayer: “Rejoice” “rejoice”
Prayer (written by Howard Thurman):
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.
Amen and amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).