It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but the planning for Advent has begun and this ancient song has been ringing in my head for several days now. Come Immanuel. It is the prayer that we speak during the Advent season as we wait. Come Immanuel we say, hoping for Christ’s peace to come. Come Immanuel, God among us, come and bring your love, peace, wisdom to our lives, our world. It is a prayer that rings out across the world as people seek relief from hunger, war, political unrest, abuse, fear, anger, [insert your burden here]. And every day, God answers the people’s prayers.
During our recent Lord’s Prayer class we spent a lot of time talking about prayer, about what it is and what it does and why we do it. But we also talked about the variety of ways prayer is answered. Largely, it is answered through the people of God. Through you. As we pray for the hungry to be fed we find ourselves feeding the hungry. As we pray for the poor, we find ourselves helping the poor. As we pray for peace, we find ourselves working for peace. God’s answer to our prayer for Christ to be among us is us, the bearers of God’s light and life in the world.
That refrain that gets stuck in our heads for months because we sing it all the time, because it is that time of year, the call of “Rejoice, rejoice, Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel? It isn’t just a promise that one day will be fulfilled, it is a call to all of us who live in Christ right now. Jesus will tell his followers in the very beginning of his ministry, “You are the light of the world!” and at the very end, “Go and make disciples”. We are light when we break the darkness that surrounds people, we make disciples when we love and the people can rejoice, knowing that God is with them. It kind of turns this top 10 hymn on it’s head doesn’t it? No longer is it a pretty, haunting prayer, but it is a call to us as followers of Christ to be just that in a real way.
We will be singing a version of this hymn throughout Advent, the season of waiting. Yet, we will be asking you not to wait because there are broken, hurting people out there waiting for you to be the light bearers, to be Christ come into their midst. How will you serve people this Advent? How will you be Christ in the midst of the busy time of year where we forget those who are sad or grieving? How will you offer fellowship to those who struggle with loneliness in this season of the family gathering? There are many in our midst, in our community who cry of Christ to come—will you answer their prayer?
Image by Sharon on Flickr