God With Us

When our minds and hearts are longing for what is missing during this Advent season, those missing pieces, people, places, and traditions can loom large. Other times during Advent we may have faced challenges, but this year has weighed on all of us differently over the many months the pandemic has haunted every aspect of our lives.

Some of us have done all the decorating and even some baking, but few of us have felt the same special something that the Christmas season tends to bring us.

As we wait for the pandemic to end and the Second Advent draw near, can we remember God is with us now in this moment, in this season, in this wilderness sort of place?

Have the schemes of the purveyors of darkness caused us to forget?

“Hope is a person and His name is Jesus. We all have access to Him if we wish.

Hope is on the other side of letting go of all control to God.”

Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative

My reflections in recent days have reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas carols that I will miss singing with our full congregation this season. It reminds me of that focus that God is with us, but the lyrics contain the sobering truth that calls for Him to come in the midst of darkness. Of course, you may well know I am speaking of O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

This hymn that is less well-known than most of the others is a ninth century Latin hymn that opens with these words:

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 hymn’s origins go back to monastic life 1,200 years ago during the eighth or ninth century when monasteries would sing a metrical phrase of O Antiphons during the final days before Christmas in anticipation of Christmas Eve. Latin documents show the title of the hymn as “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.”

The English translation came into being in 1851 when John Mason Neale, a priest and scholar, featured it in a hymnal. It’s difference in tone from other Christmas carols or hymns sets it apart for sounding less joyful than others commonly sung, but its message resonates in this season as we read or sing the lyrics.

The word Emmanuel in the title and lyrics refers to the Hebrew word, Immanuel, meaning “God with us”, first appears in Isaiah 7:14 and we see it again in Matthew 1:23. In each case the name represents a hope that is to come and in the first verse speaks of Israel mourning in exile while they wait for the Lord, a reminder that God is and will be with them in the midst of their hard time.


There is much we can learn from the lyrics as we “wait in exile.” Israel was not certain when that period would end for them even as we are not certain when this time of being shut off from much of our usual activities will last.

Are we so caught up in what is happening now that we have lost track of the “not yet?” Have we missed that He is with us even now as we wait for the Second Advent?

“The present age does not have the last word.

Life that leads us through the wilderness is unexpected and daunting. It can drop us to our knees in prayer and supplication or cause us to ignore what’s best in order to gain a quick entrance to the other side. This is the intersection of life where God is waiting. This is where we either say “yes” to God and trust Him to provide and protect, or we grab the steering wheel to maneuver the path in our own power.”

Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative

Perhaps the words of this hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, might echo in our prayers this Advent season.

“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.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Right now, in the midst of the pandemic that has spread around the entire world bringing life as we know it to a snail’s pace, consider Mary Geisen‘s words:

“But in the middle of this crisis, we as believers can rest in the truth that Jesus arrived two thousand years ago as a baby ready to live and die for our transgressions. We can proclaim with the authority of Jesus that He will come again as we wait for the pandemic to subside. Most of all, our hearts can cry together “Come, Lord Jesus” as we hold the present and future in the palm of our hands, believing that God already has this figured out.”

The Advent Narrative

9 thoughts on “God With Us

  1. I love that hymn and have always enjoyed how it sounds unique. Thank you for sharing the background and this encouraging message. I’m grateful to know that God is always with us. I hope you and your loved ones have a peaceful and very merry Christmas Pam.

  2. Thank you, Pam, I have also been challenged this year to be more intentional in my preparing and anticipating Jesus’s second advent. It’s a reality that changes everything!

    1. Indeed it has and I love being able to continue to promote it with quotes in posts this month.

      Yes, Come!!♥️

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