The Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a favorite of mine. Until recently, I was only familiar with verses 1-4, but in preparing this writing I paid closer attention to verses 5-7. I found the words of verse 5 particularly resonant given our nation and world’s political and cultural climate.
“O come, Desire of nations bind
all peoples in one heart and mind.
From dust thou brought us forth to life;
Deliver us from earthly strife.”
Given that these words were written in the 9th century, I think it’s safe to assume that they weren’t written specifically for our particular moment. Yet, in poetic fashion they are timeless in their ability to capture the strife that is universal to the human experience. After all, Jesus was born into a world filled with strife. As a Palestinian Jew, he was part of a marginalized group navigating life under Roman occupation. And yet, it was his mission to bind “all people in one heart and mind.”
Looking at the division in our world today, one might think that Jesus was unsuccessful in his mission. But as Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, we can be confident that “he who began a good work…will carry it on to completion.” So, “Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.”
Prayer: Come Lord, Jesus, and bind us together as only you can. Amen.