I was in a bad mood at church yesterday, and singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” didn’t help. It should be ‘come all you doubtful, stumbling and hesitant’ not ‘come all you faithful, joyful and triumphant,’ I thought bitterly. I have so little patience with the reality that some people are confident and happy in moments when I am not.
But we followed the bright song with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which is my all-time, constant favorite Christmas hymn. Its minor chords instantly put a smile on my face, and I remembered that Christmas is a pretty dark holiday. There is joy, definitely, in the fact that the God who created everything decided to become human to love us more intimately. But our celebration of Christmas is also about the longing of Israel 2,000 years ago for a savior, mirrored in our current longing for a returned savior – for the end of all this corruption and pain and half-answered prayers. Continue reading