Allan R. Bevere: How Does Emmanuel Come to Us?

by Dr. Allan R. Bevere, pastor, professor and author of Colossians and Philemon: A Participatory Study Guide, The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the World, and The Character of our Discontent.

starO 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 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. – translator John Mason Neale (1851)

When Mary wished for the coming of Emmanuel, it was very clear what she expected. She expected a this-worldly Savior who would deliver her in this world. She did not deny the resurrection at the last day; like all faithful Jews, she looked forward to it. But she also knew that what God had promised to do was to bring deliverance in the here and now. If all Jesus’ birth was about was some future salvation in the world to come, then why did Herod the Great perceive this young king as such a threat? If all Jesus’ ministry was about was a heavenly existence after death, why did the authorities string him up on a cross for treason? Emmanuel came to Mary as one who would make a difference in the present moment. A Messiah born into an unjust world, would seek to bring justice to those so oppressed.

When we sing “O come, O come Emmanuel,” what do we hope he will do? How do we wait for Emmanuel, we who do not suffer from having too little, but from having too much? (Read more …)

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