O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

carols.o come o come emmanuelThis one plays a lot in our house. It’s my favorite, and Sonya’s, too. Author unknown, the poem dates as early as the 12th Century. The original Latin was translated into English by John Mason Neale in 1851, and the lyrics never fail to help me meditate on the meaning of Christmas (I’ve seen many slight variations, but the different versions I’m aware of are pretty close to one another). They focus on the ministry of Christ: Ending our lonely exile, freeing us from the tyranny of sin, defeating death, providing our Way to Heaven, fulfilling the Law, and binding the church in unity. I hope the lyrics will help make this a worshipful Christmas for you as well.

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 Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
O, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Prepare your hearts for Christmas

carols.it came upon a midnight clear

When Job wanted to talk to God face-to-face, he knew he could not make such a brash demand. For all his protests that he was a righteous man, Job understood in his heart that God is infinitely higher than man. He knew that our best is garbage in the eyes of a holy God.

Job then expressed the need and the longing found throughout the Old Testament:

If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. (Job 9:33-34)

It took a few thousand years, but Job’s prayer was answered in the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Prince of Peace, through whom God reconciled the world to Him. Emmanuel. God with us.

We can get so determined to make every Christmas moment a happy one that we don’t like to focus on anything negative. But we cannot appreciate what Christmas means unless we understand the hopelessness of the world before the Messiah came.

If Christmas is to be a time of worship for us, we must be intentional about it. Other than a moment here and there, it will not happen by accident. I urge you between now and Christmas to spend time in the Old Testament. Focus on the yearning and the waiting.

Only then can we see how “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

If only there were someone to mediate between us


Jesus is (10) THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life

No one comes to the Father except through me

It isn't taboo to call yourself a Christian in America. But if you dare say you believe that Christ is the only way to God, that Jesus offers something that other religions do not, then you are narrow-minded, arrogant, and exclusive. There is a … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (9) the Bread of Life

I AM the bread of life

  I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (John 6:35) The woman at the well was thirsty. The crowds following Jesus after the miracle of the loaves and fishes were hungry. Their … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (8) the Good Shepherd

I am the Good Shepherd

The Bible says that we are all like sheep who have gone astray. That isn't a compliment. Sheep desperately need a shepherd, or they will wander off defenseless. They need someone to guide them, protect them, and care for them. Without a shepherd, … [Continue reading]

You’re not too broken

This may be the worst method for teaching about sex I’ve ever heard. And it’s apparently been used in churches and youth retreats. Matt Chandler told the story. Here’s the gimmick: With young people sitting in a circle waiting to hear a lesson … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (7) the True Vine–Part 2

my father is glorified by this

We all have a need to be useful. Christians fulfill that purpose by being connected to Christ and bearing fruit. But what if we are in a relationship with God and our branches are bare, if there doesn't seem like there is anything to show for our … [Continue reading]

“You’re not good enough to be saved” (and other things Jesus never said)

you're not good enough (and other things Jesus never said)

I don’t have time for you right now. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re basically a good person. What can you do for me? There are lots of ways to God. I’m just one of them. I’m too busy. God just wants you to be … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (7) the True Vine – Part 1

apart from me you can do nothing

It has been about 2000 years since Jesus was born, lived on earth, died on the cross, rose again, and ascended into heaven to be with the Father. As we've studied, the Bible says he is going to come again, and it could be any time, but we do not know … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (6) coming again

behold I am coming soon

Funerals stink. Death is part of this world, but it’s a part that doesn’t fit with the way our souls know it should be. The brokenness of it all feels off, on top of the sadness and loneliness that so often goes with a funeral. But the next time … [Continue reading]