O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.
The greatest title of our Lord, the reason for our celebration of Advent and Christmas, is today’s antiphon, “O Emmanuel.” Emmanuel, as we well know, means “God is with us” and this gives us great cause for joy and expectation. Today we celebrate our Savior as the presence of God in our midst, the one who has been desired in every age and nation, and who sanctifies this broken world by his presence among us.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Jesus Christ is the promised one who has come among us to bring us God’s presence. This world, of course, is broken in so many ways. Death, sin, selfishness, greed, war, terrorism, fear, disease, and pain all seem to have their way in our world, and we see them at every turn. It might even be easy to understand if God were to give up on us, decide that we were just some failed experiment, and obliterate the world in frustration. But that is not the God we believe in. Our God created us out of nothing and breathed the breath of life into us. Our God came to live among his people, taking our own form, redeeming its brokenness, and setting us free to live eternal life.
Jesus Christ is the one who dwells among us and ransoms us from our captivity to sin and death. In these final moments of Advent, we truly mourn in lonely exile, awaiting the appearance of the Son of God, our Redeemer and Lord. But we know that God keeps his promises. Just as he promised a son to barren Elizabeth, so he promises us redemption through Mary, who conceived by the Holy Spirit. We wait in hopeful expectation in these waning moments of Advent, knowing that God is among us and our Savior is very near.
Come, O Emmanuel!
Come, Lord Jesus!