O Come O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
My first Christmas in college, I discovered the season of Advent. I grew up in a Baptist church and Baptists typically don’t follow a liturgical calendar. So when my faith started to take a more ecumenical turn, I decided to explore and follow the Church’s traditional calendar. As a side note, I highly encourage this for any Christian looking for a deeper connection to the universal church. Anyway, it was during this time that I developed a love for Advent. Advent is a season of anticipation and I’m reminded of some of the stories in Scripture that speak to this feeling of longing and anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. I think of Noah and his family on the Ark waiting for the rain to subside. I think of the Israelites stuck in slavery and longing to be set free and then wandering the desert clinging to the hope of the Promised Land. I think of the Jews eagerly anticipating the Messiah, the Savior – Immanuel, “God with us.” I can’t tell you how much I identify with this sense of longing and anticipation. I’ve been a dreamer from the beginning. I was the kid that was perfectly content lying in the grass for hours, gazing at the clouds and daydreaming. It got me through the most arduous and painful of times; longing for what was to come and anticipating the promise of greater things has always given me hope. And this Advent season, the anticipation has never been more palpable.
I found out this past week that the man with whom I invested a year and a half in and loved is married. Our relationship ended well over a year ago and there is no doubt that I have moved on. The last few months of our relationship were tumultuous at best – full of regrets and pain. Looking back I knew that the relationship had to end. I fully believe that God had- and has- better things in store for both of us. I also know that God used that painful season to mold me into the person He wanted me to be. But this past week when I heard about Mr. Ex’s marriage, all the things that I worked so hard to get past came flooding back – anger, resentment, rejection, hurt. It’s not that I ever wanted him back – I didn’t and don’t – and it’s not that I don’t believe that God has someone incredible waiting for me – I believe that wholeheartedly. But I feel a bit like those Israelites wandering the desert in search of the Promised Land. They knew that it was there and that God had promised it to them but they had trouble believing it. That terrible waiting – the wandering! I was selfishly angry this week because Mr. Ex has found his Promised Land and I began whining to God, “Where’s mine?!” He answered me with the best part of the Advent story … Jesus. The Advent season doesn’t end with anticipation – it ends with fulfillment. Immanuel has come and God’s promise has been fulfilled. He stopped the rain; He delivered the Israelites from slavery and into the Promised Land; and He sent that baby in the manger – the Messiah. I’m sure He will send me my love in due time (and I am eagerly awaiting that!) but He has already brought me to the Promised Land. He has given me Himself and that is all I will ever need.
So this Advent season I am filled with joy and hope because God has kept His promises. He has redeemed me and reconciled me to Himself. I’m not a jilted bride standing alone at the altar. My Lover has chosen me – He has taken me in His arms and called me His.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in Thee tonight.