This week’s featured YouVersion Bible Reading Plan is titled “Carols & Lessons for Advent.” It dives into some of our most loved Christmas hymns and carols to explore the meaning behind them. As I read, I started thinking about my favorite songs of Advent and why they mean so much to me.
One of the songs I find myself singing, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” It captivated me from the start.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
The melody has a haunting echo that lingers in my soul. Why does this song have such an impact on me and millions of others? There is a melancholy in the words to which we each relate in our own way. The writer seems to feel isolated and downtrodden, but somehow still hopeful. It’s a song of a people waiting on a promise.
Another beautiful, simple song is “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.” When I sing it, I imagine I’m the only person lying awake in the middle of the night, daydreaming over the town I grew up in.
Oh little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth,
the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
Again, it’s a promise. In the stillness and silence of the ordinary, we can find God’s hope for the future. God promised us peace, forgiveness, justice, joy, and love. It all starts with a glimmer of light.
Are you waiting on God’s promises this Christmas? Maybe you’ve been putting up decorations, preparing gifts, and planning your family traditions hoping that these things will make you feel God’s peace and hope.
My prayer for you is that you feel God’s presence in unexpected places this Advent. Maybe you’ll feel it in a song you’ve heard a thousand times. Maybe God will reveal God’s love through a small gesture from someone else.
God’s promise is coming, and I hope you feel it.
Listen to this week's Life + God Podcast episode to hear Rev. Daniel Humbert and Alyssa Robinson about God's promise of forgiveness for the world. You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.