Listening to Lent — Shades of Life Falling

mapleApril 

I want Jesus to walk with me
I want Jesus to walk with me
All along my pilgrim journey
I want Jesus to walk with me

In my trial, Lord, walk with me
In my trials, Lord, walk with me
When the shades of life are falling
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me

In my sorrow, Lord walk with me
In my sorrows, Lord walk with me
When my heart is aching
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me

In my troubles, Lord walk with me
In my troubles, Lord walk with me
When my life becomes a burden,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me

~Spiritual

What more can I hope for
than to never be alone
in my fears, my worries, my troubles, my burdens,
when my heart aches with the joy
that God is here, with me, for me,
and I am here, with Him, for Him,
because of Him.

A Canticle for Advent: Turn Our Darkness Into Light

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O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
dispel the shadows of the night,
and turn our darkness into light.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call.

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.
12tth Century (Latin)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

“The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the Lord.
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.
Isaiah 59:20

This haunting hymn from the 12th century is often among the first hymns sung in worship during the Advent season.  It is plaintive in its plainness of plea, calling Jesus by His many names.  In coming to us,  He will change our hearts and our world, turning our darkness into light, dispelling the shadows forever.

These daily Advent reflections are each devoted to one Christmas carol (or canticle) to prepare us for God dwelling among us– then, now and forever more.

Advent Meditation–Immanuel

God’s covenant with His people is recorded early in history: the rainbow as a sign of His promise not to destroy the earth again,  a promise to Abraham to increase his descendants to as many as the stars in the sky, or the sands of the sea, the renewal of the broken bond of fellowship with His idolatrous people, the faithful remnant, then finally that a descendant of David would rule His people, including all nations.

So Isaiah’s announcement that a virgin would bear a son whose name, Immanuel, means “God with us” must have not seemed very clear to God’s people.  God had already promised to be with His people, many times in many ways, and had proven His faithfulness over and over again.

Yet generations later, when a teenager is told she is with child by the Holy Spirit, and her betrothed husband plans to quietly divorce himself from their planned marriage,  he is assured by the Lord in a dream about the true nature of this pregnancy.  Matthew reminds us of the Old Testament promise of a son to come, and suddenly it becomes clear:  God will be living with us, as a man, born of woman.  There is no greater covenant than God walking alongside us, knowing us as son, brother, friend, teacher and in the ultimate bond with His people, dying in our place.  God with us, God in our place, God fulfilling His promises–always.

Isaiah 7:14  and Matthew 1:23