One of my favorite Christmas carols is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. So many of the other Christmas songs seem like they’re all about the fluff and glitter of Christmas, and miss the true meaning and significance of the season.
Christmas is about more than bells, decked halls, reindeer, and a fat man giving out presents. Now before you call me Scrooge, don’t get me wrong. I love all those things and am glad they’re a part of my family’s Christmas traditions. But that wasn’t what the first Christmas was all about.
The reason I love O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is because I think it sums up the dynamics of the first Christmas so well when it says:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel;
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
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.
O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
O drive away the shades of night,
And pierce the clouds and bring us light.
O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Where all thy saints with thee shall dwell,
O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Emmanuel means, “God with us.” For God to be with us does not just mean that we will be friends with God and have a relationship with Him. It also means that God is going to rule those who believe in Him as a King, and He will lead His people into liberation from oppressive forces.
We know this is the foundation of the Christmas story because it is the major theme of the first Christmas carol ever written. That Christmas carol is Mary’s Magnificat (her song of praise). In today’s reading in Luke 1, notice how this isn’t a song that only records her personal feelings, but it reflects on the implications for the larger community of God’s people.
Jesus’ coming to earth wasn’t only for our own personal joy and happiness; rather He came to be the King who would bring true joy through liberation and freedom to all of God’s people. How can you participate in the liberation and freedom that Mary describes in her song?