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December 2020  

Dear friends,

Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Please join me in reading, reciting, and reflecting on the words of a beloved Advent hymn:

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 you, O Israel.  

I have missed singing with you all in the sanctuary, that’s no secret. But, I truly grieve not being able to sing these beloved Advent and upcoming Christmas hymns, with words that are etched so deeply in our hearts, alongside you.  

And, I don’t use the word “grieve” lightly, especially when it comes to the holidays. Though there is much to celebrate, I’m sure many of you, like me, experience a little bit of grief around the holidays. That’s another reason why the aforementioned hymn has resonated with me for many years. The line, “Mourns in lonely exile here”, is very powerful. In the hymn, it captures the way the Israelites must have felt waiting for the Messiah to come to free them from their literal or metaphorical exile. But, I think the line can also speak to the grief we experience in our lives, because grief can often make us feel lonely and exiled. And, furthermore, the line speaks in even larger volumes this year as many of us find ourselves experiencing some form of lonely exile because of the pandemic. O come, O come, Emmanuel, indeed…  

But, let us not end on a low note, because Advent is a season of hope and we know that God is a God of delivery. God delivered the Israelites from their exile, God delivered us from sin and death by becoming Emmanuel, and God will deliver us from our current grief, and loneliness, and exile. And, we express that hope with yet another hymn:

Wait for the Lord,

Whose day is near

Wait for the Lord

    Keep watch, take heart!  

Keep watch, take heart, my friends. You are not alone.  

Your Sibling in Christ, Pastor Robert