Bailey and Potter, CPA

A Lighthouse in the Village

“REJOICE”
Pastor Don Nelson

           O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel,
            that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear …

            These plaintive words cut through our typically frivolous wish lists, exposing our profoundest need and deepest longing: for God to be with us.
            To be sure we require material sustenance, clothing, and shelter. We benefit from technology that makes day-to-day existence easier, and luxuries that delight our senses, stimulate our minds, and nourish our souls. Yet, as Blaise Pascal observed, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart … which cannot be filled by any created thing, but … only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
            We need the presence of God more than anything else. “O come, O come” is the cry of our hearts. The psalmist speaks for all humankind when he writes, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).
           
            “O come, O come, Emmanuel …” potently summarizes our greatest need, but the song does not end there. It continues:

            Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

            Christmas celebrates Emmanuel (or Immanuel), a Hebrew word that means with us God or, in English syntax, God with us. “All this” (the incarnation of Christ) “took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22-23).  
            This is the truest, most enduring joy of Christmas: that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus of Nazareth is Emmanuel, God with us, for he “is the image of God,” “the exact likeness” of God’s being (II Corinthians 4:4), and he has drawn near to us. 
            May the cheerful decorations, delicious treats, lovely music, merry festivities, and warm fellowship of this season ignite in our souls a powerful craving for more: more beauty, truth, wholeness, and life. And may we find all this in Christ Jesus. He is the fulfillment of our deepest need and profoundest longings. His birth is, indeed, “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

            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!


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