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  • Writer's pictureJacob Skorka

O Come, Please, O Come, for the Love, Emmanuel

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Here, have a beer and let's talk about the ebbs and flows that happen inside of seasons which are embedded in stages.


This one started weeks ago, at the beginning of Advent. Admittedly, I am very ignorant of the concept of Advent and its true meaning(s). I can't blame it on my faith's infancy anymore, which sucks, because now I have to own that I am ignorant because I have never taken the time to learn about it. I have always associated Advent with Christmas, which is not incorrect, but I didn't know that there was more to it. Through that association I assumed that it was some type theological thing that had to do with the birth of Jesus, and that was good enough for me. It was always the reason for the season, to use a cliché. This year Jos and I went to a worship night, hosted by a local church, on the evening that Advent started. With the intention of celebrating the start of Advent we sat, and stood, and sang, and listened to a few people talk about it. I learned a lot that night about what it actually means. That led to weeks of me thinking deeper and deeper about it, which changed the original concept of this bloggy blog from Christmas, to waiting, then to seasons, and later to studying where my heart has been.


I learned that the word advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means "coming". I knew a little bit about that because of my association of Advent and Christmas - so it probably meant that Christ was coming, meaning He was to be born. I didn't know that it not only means that Christ was coming {to be born} but also means that Christ is coming {again}. This means that we, as believers, wait. That has to mean that we, as believers, every December, celebrate the fact that we are waiting. We certainly celebrate that Christ was born as a human, in an extremely lowly place, and that I understand deeply. I had a hard time wanting to celebrate waiting because, frankly, I'm tired of waiting. I'm so tired of waiting.


Patience is a stupid concept to me. Blame it on my heart's deep yearning to be productive, or the way American culture has shaped me, or my crippling competitive spirit. Whatever. I just think it's dumb that if something could happen now, it doesn't matter, I still have to wait for it to happen "when it's supposed to" or something like that.


During the worship night the band played O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I'm sure you could have guessed that. I'm sure you could also guess the other 3 songs they played, but that's neither here nor there. Something that I didn't expect to happen happened after they played the song, which was a nice surprise. A sweet old lady named Ruth stood on the stage and taught us what we were singing. What we were actually singing. Not just the verses we know and sing today. Ruth taught us - in one of the most passionate and elegant ways I have ever seen - what the original song, the first translation of the song, the most recent translation of the song, and every verse that has been added since its conception should mean to us as Christians in 2020. Here's the kicker: I forgot most of what she said. What I remember is her passion. Not the passion that she displayed in her speech, but her passion for waiting on Jesus to come back.


O Come, O Come Emmanuel became a freaking bop for me this Christmas season. Initially, while Ruth's words were fresh on the cranium, I was digging the song because I actually knew what was being said. I had context which provided more appreciation. Couple that with some of the most talented musicians ever covering the song, and it can really get you in your feels. As the days passed after Ruth exited stage left I continued listening to the song and it started to shift. Earlier I mentioned how this thought changed from Christmas, to waiting, then to seasons, and later to studying where my heart has been - and this is where that started to become frighteningly introspective.


Here's why:

"O come, O come Emmanuel

and ransom captive Israel

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel."


Turned into:

"O come, O come Emmanuel

and ransom . . . me

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to . . . me."


At some point I started to replace Israel with myself, and not in a good way. Not in the way that I am rejoicing in the hope that Jesus is coming for me. Sure, there are times that I rejoice knowing that Emmanuel will come. But, to be honest with you, friends, for the large majority of the last year I have felt like captive Israel needing ransom. I have mourned in lonely exile wondering where Jesus is. Wondering why I can't feel Him, or see Him, or if I even know Him. I realized that I have been crying O come, O come Emmanuel for much longer than the Advent season. I have realized that Advent is not just a season of the calendar year, it is also a Christian life.


I want to be like Ruth. I want to have goosebumps and an irresistible urge to jump to my feet before I fall to my knees when I think about Emmanuel ransoming captive Israel. I want to be singing through tears while I wait, patiently, for what is adventus.


Instead, I get angry and scream through my pain when I think about another season of waiting.


There are times when rejoice and praises flow. There are times when that praise and rejoice ebb away from my shores. I can't deny that there are times that I am like Ruth, but an overwhelming amount of time I am paralyzed with the frustration of hard seasons.


Seasons are inevitable. I have wrestled with that since giving my life to Christ in 2011. I cannot escape seasons, whether good or bad. What I get angry about is that the hard seasons - the seasons when I can't feel God and don't think He is there - seem to have so much more of a stronghold on me that I can't remember the good seasons. I don't know what has happened to my heart in seasons of abundance. I can't remember what it felt like to flow with praise and rejoice inside of a good season because I am enveloped with stronger emotions when my praise and rejoice ebbs inside of hard ones. I can't grasp the idea that seasons define life stages and create good, strong, grounded things, people, and communities because I am tired of the hard seasons of my life revolving around waiting. I have been waiting for something for as long as I can remember. When I look back and remember, I remember that I'm never waiting for the same thing. I'm waiting for a job, or I'm waiting for a friend, or I'm waiting for a girl, or I'm waiting for family or it just doesn't matter what I'm waiting for because hard seasons are always seasons of waiting.


I want to be like Ruth. I want to stop being frustrated while waiting for a job, or annoyed while waiting for a friend, or insatiable while waiting for a girl, or arrogant while waiting for family. I want to be in a life stage where ebbs turn to flows while my entire life is focused on a season of waiting. Realizing that my entire life is a season of waiting. Taking some type of comfort knowing that I am waiting for one Thing. That one Thing is enough to be passionate about when the season gets hard, and the one Thing that I'm waiting for is never anything different, although it might manifest itself in something that I am desiring right now. This may be a realization that I have had but it doesn't make me any more eager to wait. It doesn't make patience any easier for me to possess. I've been wrestling with this for a long time and now it feels like nothing has changed except I have words to explain it. I'm still waiting on things outside of the one Thing that we are all waiting for and it's just as frustrating as it was 5 years ago. I do feel less lonely in exile knowing the Church is captive Israel, but that doesn't make it easier right now.


O come, O come Emmanuel because your work is bigger than my hard seasons, but please, for the love of everything good, can You make my hard seasons just a little less hard? Thanks, G.


Have another beer and think about Advent - waiting - for the rest of your life.

 

For those of you ready to attack: the worship night was very COVID-protocol-friendly. Jos and I both got tested afterwards and were as negative as your twitter feed has been all year.

Bop is what the kids are saying these days for "good song". Synonymous to "jam", "tune", or "killer song".

Emmanuel means "God with us" and is synonymous with Jesus. Jesus is God as a man on earth with His people. Emmanuel = Jesus and should be used interchangeably in this blog.

one Thing is Jesus coming back and ruling for eternity. I'm sorry if that was confusing while you were reading in real time.

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