Saturday, November 28, 2009


Advent begins tomorrow and my topic is The Gift of Hope. Some designate the Sundays as Hope, Peace, Joy and Love; others go with Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels and both culminate with The Birth of Christ. Either works. The Prophecy certainly is all about Hope. I am posting Day One--still haven't figured out how to give you the illustrated version and I believe I miscounted and have left off one meditation.

The season of Advent is upon us and it is time to turn our thoughts to the first coming of the Lord Jesus. I love the music of Christmas! There just aren’t enough Sundays to sing the wide range of hymns found in our hymbooks. Choirs don’t have enough time to prepare enough music for us to hear. There aren’t enough brass ensembles to accompany the festive music of Christmas Eve. This year I have chosen a few of the hymns of Advent and Christmas as the basis for our meditations. Some may be new to you; others may be old favorites. Some center on prophecy; others tell the story of Christ’s birth; a few give us a more complete picture of prophecy, birth, why Christ came and take us to his second coming. All have a message.

Meditations for each day suggest a Scripture reading, thoughts about the hymn of the day and “words to ponder.” The Scriptures are brief and are intended to give background for the meditations. Only words to hymns that may be unfamiliar are printed, as are some words or verses used for special emphasis so you may find it helpful to keep a hymnbook or other music source handy. “Words to ponder” are just that and are intended to help us think more about what we believe and the words we sing.

God bless you as you read and as you sing with the angels: Glory to God in the highest!

Day 1O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Scripture: Isaiah 7:14

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Song of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here:
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and discord cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel has always signaled the beginning of the Advent season for me. No words, no melody could focus my attention on the coming of Jesus more than these do.

The words are said to have been written in about the 12th century, but they could easily have been sung by the Israelites in exile upon hearing the message of Isaiah. Jesus is identified as Emmanuel, God with us, in verse one; as Dayspring in verse two and as the Desire of nations in verse three. The pleading of the Israelites is for the promised Messiah to come and rescue them from exile. Even the melody suggests despair in its minor loveliness. But, true to form, hope is expressed in the refrain as people are told to “Rejoice.”

Words to ponder: As we enter this Advent season, may the words of this hymn be our prayer. Only the coming of Emmanuel in the hearts of all people will cause peace to triumph over despair. Then, we can gladly sing, Rejoice!

Pastor Margaregt

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