O Emmanuel : God With Us
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of All Nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
Is there anyone here whose life has left him afraid to hope, afraid to dream, afraid to wish for anything? Is there anyone here whose Christmas list is empty because she no longer knows what to ask for, because she no longer knows what could bring meaning and purpose, hope and joy, peace and love? Is there anyone here this morning who longs to know a life that is not just a slow dying? Who yearns for the desire of every nation–the desire of his own heart? Then we say to that person, “Brother, Sister, take heart! Emmanuel comes. In His presence are joy, and peace, and life abundant. Because He knew how to die, He can teach you how to live. The gift He brings is far better than anything you could ask for, dream for, or even imagine. Behold! The gift He gives you is Himself. He is God-with-us and He is with you, too. So rejoice and sing:”
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
Brothers and sisters, I ask you now to turn back with me and consider the whole course of the Antiphons, for I want to share with you a message of hope and joy hidden within the prayers we have just prayed together again. In the image above you will see these antiphons in their original Latin form. You can see that each antiphon begins with the word O. For that reason, they are called the “Great O Antiphons.” But the second word is really the more important. The second word of each prayer is a title for the coming Savior: Wisdom, Adonai, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of Nations, and Emmanuel.
Now here is the message. If you read the letters backwards from the last prayer to the ﬁrst, they read “E-R-O C-R-A-S.” The ﬁnal prayer, the one that begins “O Emmanuel,” will be prayed on the twenty-third of December. The following evening will be Christmas Eve, the celebration of Emmanuel’s birth. So then, if on December 23, you look back at all of the prayers you have said this week and recall all the promises you have heard this week, you will discover the hidden message I spoke of–Emmanuel’s response to the Advent longing of His people. In Latin, ero cras means, “Tomorrow, I will be there!”
Rejoice! Emmanuel has heard your prayers. He promises: “Tomorrow, I will be there!”
May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.