The verse is in a minor key. That should give you a clue. Not your average Christmas carol.
Thinking about the song, and reading the today’s selected blog post, I was reminded of the popular worship song, “Blessed Be The Name;” especially where it talks about “pain in the offering.” Ditto, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day;” a song cheerfully sung by some oblivious to the lyrics they are mouthing. Christmas can be a time of pain for many. Here in Canada we are mourning the loss of another soldier in Afghanistan, just two days before his 25th birthday; just days before Christmas. There are other situations and examples I wish I could share here, but am respecting certain confidentialities…
…I find the posts for this blog in some unique places, and this post about O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is from the blog of the student ministry of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Norfolk, Maine. Coincidence?
Anne Bradstreet was a Puritan poet who had the following to say about pain and the love of God:
“And when I have been in sickness and pain I have thought if the Lord would but lift up the light of his countenance upon me, although he ground me to powder it would be but light to me; yea, oft have I thought were it hell itself, and could there find the love of God toward me, it would be a heaven. And could I have been in heaven without the love of God, it would have been a hell to me; for, in truth, it is the absence and presence of God that makes heaven or hell.” (The Poems of Mrs. Anne Bradstreet, 317-318)
So often, we consider God’s love the power that drives away the pain in our lives. We ask ourselves why God allows us to suffer such pain, and we wonder whether or not it’s because our faith isn’t as firm as it should be. But I love what Anne Bradstreet writes and I’m challenged to ask myself if I could say the same thing: Heaven without the love of God would be a Hell to me, and Hell with God’s love being present would be like Heaven to me.
This Advent season, we hear and sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” often, but I wonder how much we really miss how amazing the truth of that song truly is. Emmanuel… “God with us.” Knowing that God truly became a man in Christ Jesus, and that He sent us the Holy Spirit to live within and to guide each of us who believe in Christ should make a serious difference in how we endure pain and suffering.
For many, the Christmas/holiday season is a really difficult time of year as they remember loved ones who are not still around to celebrate with. December can be a very lonely month! But “Emmanuel = God with us” rings out even louder than loneliness… God’s love is true in Christ, cherish that sweet truth today.
Normally at this point, I’d embed the video, but this time I want to invite you to jump to the source blog to watch a very stirring contemporary rendition of the song…