Advent Songs: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…Preparations

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast 

Isaiah 40:1-4

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.

Will It? | George Ranch Historical Park, Richmond, TX | October 2022

Company’s coming! Clear off the countertops! Clean the floors! Dust. Vacuum. Clean the bathrooms. We don’t live in a Better Homes and Gardens – decorated house. You wouldn’t stage our home for a real estate sale without some major decluttering, furniture moving, and storage unit filling. But when we’re having company certain things just must be done. It may not be listing photo ready. But there are some things we simply must do. I may not be the driver of that process, but I do like the result: a clean house and dirty-laundry-free living space.

When Emmanuel was to come, Isaiah says preparations need to be made. Rather than sweeping floors, however, we must humble the proud and encourage the timid. We must straighten our lives and order our life-choices according to God’s standards. But those means of preparation are for our good and blessing, not so that God will come. It will be better for us if we’re ready for him than if we’re not.

But our preparedness does not determine his mission or his purpose. He was committed to this before the foundation of time. Emmanuel’s intent and purpose is to bless, not to condemn (cf. John 3:17). His commitment is to redeem. He won’t be thwarted by rough roads or unable to traverse deep valleys. Like the song Reckless Love says,

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
And I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Songwriters: Cory Asbury
Reckless Love lyrics © Be Essential Songs,
Bethel Music Publishing, Watershed Worship Publishing, Cory Asbury Publishing

Emmanuel has come. He will come again. His mission is love, grace, truth, and redemption. He has ransomed us. We are his. We need not earn it. But we must live it. He will come again. On that day faith will be turned to sight. All will be right with the world. Justice will be fully and finally served. The humble will be exalted. The arrogant will be abased. We who look for and pray for his coming will be eternally glad. So in anticipation of that, we sing…

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

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

1 O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear. Refrain

Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

2 O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who ord’rest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go. Refrain

3 O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the Law
In cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

4 O come, Thou Branch of Jesse’s tree,
Free them from Satan’s tyranny
That trust Thy mighty pow’r to save,
And give them vict’ry o’er the grave. Refrain

5 O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery. Refrain

6 O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight. Refrain

7 O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace. Refrain

Text: Public domain

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