Friday, December 24, 2021

“Rejoice! Rejoice!” [Matt's Messages]

“Rejoice! Rejoice!”
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Christ Candle Lighting :: Christmas Eve
December 24, 2021

“Advent” means “Coming.” Christmas is coming–tomorrow! Jesus has come and is coming again.

For this year’s Advent Season, we as a church have been reflecting on one of the most famous and ancient advent hymns, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

We just sang it.

Anybody want to take a stab at how old this song is? Hint: The lyrics were originally written in Latin. 

This hymn is over 1200 years old in its origins. That’s according to my extensive historical research of a Google Search and a Wikipedia article.  But that’s right. Some of the lyrics of this song were in circulation among followers of Jesus Christ before the year 800AD. The church is old, y’all. We are a part of something very old.

Listen to the first words in Latin and see if they sound familiar.

“Veni, veni Emmanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio,

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel." 

“Veni, veni Emmanuel.”

You can hear the “adVENT” there can’t you?

The “come.” “Veni!” This song asks Immanuel to come, to arrive, to show up, to visit, to save.

Originally it was plainchanted antiphonally, but then eventually it was paired with a polyphonic tune that has come to bear the same name, “Veni Veni Emmanuel.”

That’s the tune that we know it by.

And it is so plaintive, isn’t it? It’s such a prayer: “Please! Come! Please! We need you!”

It’s written for Christians, but it’s written from an Old Testament perspective from before the Christ came that first Christmas.

The carol draws deeply from Old Testament imagery.

Our hymnal doesn’t have some of the original stanzas.

Here’s one we don’t normally sing:

“O come, Adonai, Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

The singers want the God who gave the Law to come again in majesty.

Here’s another one that we don’t normally sing, but perhaps you’ve heard it:

“O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Each stanza names the Messiah with a new name. “Adonai” “Key of David.”

And each stanza asks that the Messiah solve His people’s greatest problems in the strength of each name. “Close the path to misery!”

And then the refrain echoes back an assurance that their prayers will be answered.

Emmanuel will come and will rescue his people, called “Israel” in the Old Testament, and we know that those promises extend to us in the New  Covenant.

And so each refrain calls upon us to rejoice. 

“Rejoice! Rejoice!”


On the first Sunday of Advent, Miles and Jennifer lit our first candle and read the first verse which sets the whole song in motion.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.”

That name “Emmanuel” is so important.

It literally means, “God with us.”

The prophet Isaiah promised that God would be with His people so that they should not be afraid no matter what was threatening them. Isaiah prophesied, "The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." 

This mysterious promise established a pattern of God's rescuing presence for His people. 

Amazingly, the Son of God Himself would appear and ransom His people from their sins.

The exile here was physical for the Old Testament people of God, but it is metaphorical and spiritual for you and me.

We are not alone.

God Himself has come. Like we saw on Sunday morning in Isaiah 40.

And God Himself is coming again.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O people of God.


On the second Sunday of Advent, Don and Linda lit the second candle and read out the second verse:

“O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight."

Does the world seem dark to you today?

So many things are bleak in our world these days. Just look at the headlines. And the gloomiest darkness is death. This song is clear-eyed about how depressing life can be.

But it also sings that the Messiah is the “Dayspring.”

And he calls Jesus the “Rising Sun” who will “come to us from heaven.”

Jesus is like the Sunrise! Have you ever watched the sunrise and felt your heart rise with it?

Rejoice! Rejoice!

The sun has come, and the sun will come again. And the darkness will have to run away!


On the Third Sunday of Advent, Brady, Beth, Khandis, and Kelcey lit the third candle and recited the third verse:

“O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go."

Again there is such honesty here about how hard things are.

Our world is chaotic and awash in folly. We desperately need wisdom, an understanding of God's ways, and discernment of what is truly good and right. 

Amazingly, the Messiah does not simply bring wisdom–He is wisdom Himself.

The Bible says that in Jesus are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-23)!
He brings stability to our lives and reveals to us the path of knowledge in which to walk.

Of course, we need to listen to Him and read His words to find out what that path is.

I hope you have a plan to read your Bible in 2022. 

Because this is full of wisdom from on high.

Rejoice! Rejoice!


Just this last Sunday, Keith and Pennie lit the fourth candle and read the fourth verse of the hymn:

“O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease,
Fill all the world with heaven's peace."

Does anybody know where that name for the Messiah is found in the Old Testament?

It’s the prophecy of Haggai. One of the little minor prophets in the back of your Old Testament.

They were minor in size but major in message. The LORD said through Haggai,  "...'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty.” (vv.6-7, NIV84).

Did you know that all of the nations want Jesus?

They don’t realize it either!!!

But that’s what’s going on down deep in their hearts.

All of the peoples of the Earth desperately desire peace and salvation. And we know where that is truly found! One day soon, the Savior will arrive and fulfill all of our deepest longings. Imagine a joyful unified world when all warfare has ended because of the glorious reign of the coming “Prince of Peace.” Where we don’t have to pray for our men and women in uniform missing their families as they serve us overseas!

That’s what was happening that first Christmas, the Desire of Nations was being born.

And He’s coming back again to gloriously finish what He unstoppably started.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

We have every reason to rejoice.

And the great one is our salvation from our sins and our eventual resurrection from the dead.


Here’s one you don’t hear every day.

“O come, Thou Rod [or some versions] Branch of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.”

The point of this stanza is that Jesus is the Savior, the Rescuer, the Deliverer.

He has come to free His own people from Sin and Satan and Hell and Death.

That little baby that was born in Bethlehem would grow to be a man who lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death upon a wooden cross.

He tasted the Hell that we deserve on that cross.

And then three days later He rose from the grave Himself.

And that frees us from the same.

So that all who put their faith and trust in Him and become His people, are saved.

Saved from Sin.
Saved from Satan.
Saved from Hell.
Saved from Death.

Have you turned from your sin and put you faith in this Christ?

If you have not, I invite you to do so right here and right now.

And if you have, then rejoice!

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to Israel.

And Emmanuel will come to His people again.

Rejoice! Rejoice!