Skip to comments."O Emmanuel, Come" (Advent sermon series on the O Antiphons)
Posted on 12/18/2010 10:52:35 PM PST by Charles Henrickson
O Emmanuel, Come (Matthew 1:18-25)
And now we come to the last of the seven O Antiphons, O Emmanuel. You see it there in your hymnal, on the page facing the hymn; its the one listed for December 23. Youll find it also in your bulletin. So lets pray this Emmanuel antiphon together: O Emmanuel, our king and our Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
This word Emmanuel--it sounds familiar enough, but what does it mean? The word Emmanuel with an E is just the Latin spelling of the Hebrew word Immanuel. And in Hebrew it goes like this: Im-manu-el. Im means with. Manu means us. And El means God. So Im-manu-el, literally, With us, God. Or to put it a little more smoothly, God with us.
Thats what the word Emmanuel means, simple enough. But what does it mean in the larger sense to have God with us? How does that happen? Is it good or bad, to have God with us? Is that a scary or a comforting thought? What does it mean for our lives that God is with us? Those are all questions to ponder when we pray this prayer, O Emmanuel, Come.
The term Emmanuel can have both a scary and a comforting side. Scary, in that the idea of God with us for judgment would indeed terrify us poor miserable sinners. Our lack of faith and trust in God would be exposed. We couldnt hide anything from God--as though we really could conceal our sins from God in the first place. Not! Remember how our father Adam tried to hide in the bushes from God, because he was afraid. Guilt will do that to you. Youll try to run away and hide from God, keep him at a distance. But that is just a case of self-delusion. God knows where you are, and he knows what youve done. You can run, but you cant hide.
How would you like to have God with you, seeing what youre doing, hearing what youre saying, knowing what youre thinking, 24/7, every moment of every day? Would your life be pleasing in his sight? The things that no one else can see, but that you know--your impure thoughts, your hateful thoughts, your inner selfishness and the self-centeredness that you cant get rid of, who you really are, deep down--would you want God knowing all that? Guess what? He already does. God with us--how will you withstand that kind of scrutiny?
So Immanuel, God with us in judgment--that by itself terrifies us and condemns us, and we want to run away and hide. No comfort there.
But the good news is that God is with us, not to judge us, but to save us! Thats what Christmas is all about. God coming in the flesh to be with us as our Savior. The birth of that little baby--he is Emmanuel, God with us: Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).
So these two words go together: Immanuel and Jesus. Immanuel tells us that he is God with us. And Jesus tells us why he comes to be with us, and that is, to save us. The one who is God in the flesh, with us, living where we live--he is with us in order to save us from our sins. Thats what this other word, Jesus, tells us about him. Again, its Hebrew, Yehoshua, or Yeshua for short, and it means Yahweh saves, The Lord saves. Thats why this baby gets that name, because thats what he will do. God with us to save us from our sins. Immanuel. Jesus.
It takes God with us in order to save us. We couldnt do it on our own. Only God can, and he does. We couldnt rise above our sins, or offset them with our works, or sweep them under the rug. They had to be dealt with and paid for. So God in his infinite mercy sent his own Son to do the job. Only Christ is righteous enough to keep Gods law the way it was meant to be kept. Only the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross is big enough to cover the sins of the whole world, the Son of God dying in the place of every sinner, including you. Only his holy blood can wash away our sins. So here comes Jesus, whose very name means Savior, to be God with us in order to save, not to judge. Pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
And Christs resurrection shows us that his death on the cross was powerful to do the job, to atone for our sins, save us from them, save us from the power of death, and save us for a new and everlasting life. We have a living Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.
And this Savior is still with us. He promises, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Jesus is still with us, here in our midst, here in his church, present to forgive our sins. And our risen Lord promises to stay with us as our Emmanuel. He says, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Your Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, is with you always, all the days, the good days and the bad. The day when your heart is warmed, life is going well, your faith is strong, youre happy and joyful in the Lord--on that day Christ is being your Emmanuel. But also on the not-so-happy days, the day when you hear the bad diagnosis, the day when youre lonely and depressed, the day when youre struggling with doubt and a guilty conscience--on those days, too, Jesus is with you as your Emmanuel, forgiving you and saving you. Hear again his sure promise: And behold, I am with you always--literally, all the days--to the end of the age.
To the end of the age: That is where we are looking, that is where we are headed, when we pray the Emmanuel antiphon. Were praying that Christ will come and save us on that day. Save us from the judgment to come and from the destruction and damnation that are about to fall on this planet and its people. Come and save us, good Lord! Come again at your Second Advent, and rescue us from wrath and ruination. Only you can do it, Lord; we trust in you. We look ahead in hope, according to your promise according to your name, Jesus, Savior; according to your being Emmanuel, God with us. That is the ultimate goal, isnt it? God with us, forever. Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
That, dear friends, is our great Advent hope, so well encapsulated in these seven O Antiphons. Oh, come, Christ our Wisdom, so ordering all things according to Gods grand design. Come, Adonai, Lord, our mighty Redeemer and Liberator. O Root of Jesse, come, the one who is both root and shoot of Israels line of kings. O Key of David, come, you who unlock our prison doors and open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. O Dayspring, the light that dawns upon our path. O King of the nations, our true treasure, the one we desire above all things. And now finally, O Emmanuel, God with us to save.
These antiphon prayers are true preparation, getting us ready for Christs coming at Christmas and at the end of time. As Christmas preparation, the seven O Antiphons are brilliantly timed. Youll recall that you saw in your hymnal, opposite Hymn 357, that these antiphons are assigned, each one to a date, over the seven days leading up to the day of Christmas Eve. In other words, December 17 through 23.
Now look in your bulletin at the seven titles for Christ, in their Latin form: Sapientia, Adonai, Radix Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens, Rex gentium, and Emmanuel. Take the first letter from each of those titles--S for Sapientia, A for Adonai, R for Radix, and so on--put those seven letters together and what do they spell? S-A-R-C-O-R-E, SARCORE. And what does that mean? Absolutely nothing! SARCORE is not even a word. But if you take those seven letters and run them the other way around, E-R-O-C-R-A-S, ERO CRAS, that does mean something! Ero, in Latin. is the future tense of the verb to be, and so it means, I will be. And cras--like in our word procrastinate--cras means tomorrow. Ero cras, I will be, tomorrow.
So here are these seven O Antiphons, the church is praying them over seven days beginning December 17, and we end on December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. The church has been praying, O Christ, come. Come and be here for us, to save us at your Second Coming just as surely as you came at Christmas. O come, O come, Emmanuel. And with our prayer comes Christs answer, his promise, Ero cras, I will be, tomorrow. Dear friends, here is the beautiful message of the seven O Antiphons: As near as Christmas is coming, so near is the coming of our Savior. His salvation is on the way, right around the corner.
And with that, then, we bring our Advent O Antiphon series to a close by praying together the final, Emmanuel antiphon: O Emmanuel, our king and our Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
I don’t see what that post has to do with this sermon, but oh well. . . .
Your dry commentary seemed like it needed some funny Rahm Emanuel injection.
Oh, I get it now! “O Emmanuel, Come!” Touché! I was a little slow on the uptake there.
What about the Prophons?