by Michael Ketterhagen
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!
--Christian hymn for Advent
Before every meal during Advent, Mary and I (and whoever else was with us) would light the appropriate number of the four candles on our Advent wreath and chant this song. Originally, when our family was small it reminded us of the coming of Christ as the baby Jesus into the world. It recalled our belief that Christ was coming to free Israel of its pain and misery. It reminded us of the blessed belief of the reality of God’s presence in the world and God’s salvation.
As I have grown in my faith and understanding about the presence of God in the world, I have understood my need to directly experience the presence of Christ within myself. Now, the words don’t refer to the hope that the nation of Israel would regain its status in the territory of Palestine some 2000 years ago. Nor did it refer to the agony that the Hebrew people must have felt under the oppression of the Romans.
Instead, the chant now, before every meal, referred to the agony that I have felt in my spiritual journey to know and experience God within. I felt exiled physically on this planet, in this body, and in need to God’s tangible presence in my life. I was Israel. I am the “nation” that needed ransom from captivity. The captivity that I longed to be free of was the loneliness/the oppression of not experiencing the Light of God within me. I believed strongly in that presence, yet I longed to know experientially that light within me…. I longed for the mystical experience of Emmanuel, “God with us”.
My study of yoga science and philosophy has introduced me to that light. Through the practice of Vishoka Meditation, I am now aware of the Light of Christ within. I experientially bask in the pulsation of that presence during my meditation. I now am freed of the oppression of just believing that God is with me.
Now, Israel is rejoicing because Emmanuel has come! Instead of a chant of faith and hope, this chant is a statement of deep spiritual experience. I now chant the song’s chorus anew: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel (the Light of Christ) HAS come to you (your body, mind and spirit), O Israel (Michael)!
Thank you, God!
I pray to the Divinity, the Christ, in you!