O come, O come Emmanuel — we are in the midst of what is being called a Dark Winter — we need you.
The tune has a haunting sadness and longing laced with hope. The lyric tells of gloom, grief, loneliness, the depths of hell, and the need for salvation. Through it all we sing — “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come.”
Each one of us can name personal ways we may be in a dark or shadowy place. We can also collectively name the ways our communities, nation, and world are experiencing a Dark Winter.
Your home, family, or friendships may be experiencing the challenges of an extended isolation, feeling alone or what we might call cabin or island fever. Stuck. Restricted. Limited. Perhaps the cornovirus has come into your home and you have suffered from sickness, been hospitalized or a loved one has died. Grief upon grief can lead to lostness in the shadows and darkness. Many have lost employment. With lost wages comes insecurity of food, medical care, and home.
To compound the unsettledness, darkness, and shadows of these times, our nation and world are reeling in a turmoil which does not resolve but continues to escalate. The pandemic has rippled and then rolled as waves through every community. Businesses are being shuttered, some temporarily and others permanently. Racial tensions are at a high. In many instances our own law enforcement and citizenry are at war. The pandemic is revealing the long time disparities between people of color and white people. The political divide is deepening. Politicians can no longer extend across the aisle to shake hands as the reach is much too great.
Yes, a Dark Winter. O come, o come, Emmanuel.
Through this Advent season, I have been including in my morning meditation time, the readings from the prophets and the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke. Knowing and naming the hardness of these times brings a new experience of the familiar readings. It is the longing and need for the presence of Christ which brings hope and anticipation, which is the heart of the season of Advent.
Would I know the Savior, if I do not need saving? This is what our familiar Advent carol reveals —
“And ransom captive Israel…”
“From the depths of hell Thy people save…”
“Death’s dark shadows put to flight.”
The Gospel of Luke shines the Light into our dark winter. The angels remind and assure each time they speak — “Do not be afraid.” Such assurance caused Mary to sing.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)
As you gaze into the heavens this season, look for the Christmas star (Jupiter and Saturn aligning to shine in brilliance). It is as though the Creator is aligning the very planets to remind us of the good news of hope in our dark winter. Sing, people, sing of the coming of Emmanuel. Sing of hope. Sing because God in Christ saves us for a new day; a new life.
In Christ’s Hope,