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

Being that out of all current staff members at WorldShare, I probably go to the most traditional church, and am well known for routinely singing some of the, dare I say it, old fashioned hymns around the office, I guess it was only natural that I be asked to write a blog on a carol that has its origins in 7th or 8th century monasteries!

The carol, though, is as relevant today as it was when it was written 1300 years ago, and as relevant as when Isaiah wrote the words that the carol is based around. It voices a yearning which all Christians share: whatever music they listen to, whatever prayers they say, whatever their church background; a yearning to more fully be in the presence of our God.

O come O come Emmanuel, O come God with us, O come Jesus Christ!

This year, more than any other that I can think of, I have found myself yearning. Yearning for an end to the pandemic, yearning for an end to the suffering that we see in this world, yearning to see my loved ones, to go to my church, to have coffee with friends, to know my God better, deeper, more fully.

We have been reminded that we are not in control of this world, as we privileged few in the West have sometimes allowed ourselves to believe. For many of our ministry partners, that is a fallacy they wouldn’t ever dream of having. The people they help have no control over their lives or their futures. Covid-19 has, to a degree, made us equal partners with them, in a world that we cannot control, a world beyond us.

But yet, Jesus, Emmanuel, has been ever present, reassuring, confirming and comforting, bringing the light of hope into the darkness… something that our ministry partners do day after day, year after year, sustained by their faith in Him.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

And so, we are sustained by our Dayspring, our Emmanuel, our God with us. He walks alongside us in our pain and suffering as friend and comforter. He can be seen in the face of the nurse or doctor who cares and heals, the neighbour who brings a food package, the volunteer who takes supplies to a refugee camp, cares for a child, a parent, a brother or a sister. Our ministry partners are so often the faces of Jesus to those they serve.

And not only does He bring us comfort in this world, He gives us hope through the darkness of a better life, of a better world when He comes again in Glory. Of a world where peace reigns, where suffering has ended. That is the promise of our Emmanuel, our God with us, a promise of comfort in our pain and suffering in this world, and of peace in the next. What a promise that is!!!

And so, as we pray our way through advent, through the darkness, we should rejoice. Rejoice in the magnitude of this great gift, that came, that remains with us, and that is to come. Our Wisdom, our Lord, our Dayspring, our King of Peace, our Emmanuel…

O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Have a blessed Christmas and may you know the presence of your Emmanuel, God with us.

By Jenny Hunt, WorldShare’s Finance Manager.

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