Oh come! Oh come, Emmanuel!
And ransom captive Israel!
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear!
Every night before Mary and I eat supper together, we light the candles on the Advent wreath and sing this classical Christian Christmas song. As we sing, I am drawn within and ask the Source of Life to shine brightly inside me so that I don’t have to feel so alone or isolated. I long for “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us,” to come not as a child reborn in Bethlehem, but as a Presence deep within me.
Then we sing the second verse,
Rejoice! Rejoice! Oh Israel!
To you shall come Emmanuel!
and I realize that I have experienced that divinity in the form of Light within myself when I meditate. I recall, as yoga and every religious tradition say, that the Source of Life is within every human being. All we need to do is quiet our body and mind and link with our breath for that Light to begin shining within.
Like most people, though, I am often not aware that “God is with us.” We are often not aware of “Emmanuel.” We tend to forget that Presence. That is the purpose of this Advent wreath ritual. That is the purpose of all rituals. They are to remind us of the Truth.
So, whenever we use the Advent wreath or a yule log or a menorah or a Kwanzaa candelabra or a Unitarian-Universalist Chalica chalice of light, or any other symbol of light at this time of darkness, we are reminding ourselves of the Presence of a Greater Reality—The Light of the World, The Source of all Life.
Also, all holiday gathering activities, which often become traditions and have ritual components to them, push us to realize that Emmanuel has come! All these rituals and gatherings bring meaning and purpose, that is, Light, to our lives.
I pray that we actively involve ourselves in continuous rituals that bring us to the awareness that “God is with us (in our midst),” and that “God is within us (in our core being).”
I pray this prayer for all of you who are reading this. May you know the joy of this season not just now, but all year long!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Oh Human! To you shall come Emmanuel!