O Emmanuel

Source: District of Asia

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people: Come and set us free, Lord our God.

Emmanuel- God with us- this was a radical fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies which the Jews had never dreamed would happen: a divine Messiah. Though the promises all refer to and fit Jesus, the Messiah expected by the Israelites was not divine. To their reasoning, none could be literally divine, really the Son of God. Their expectation of a saving ruler did not assume that God would share His very nature and essence with the Anointed One.

Emmanuel reflects an entirely Christian and entirely new theology, one of Incarnation and an immanence hitherto unknown. God with us, sharing every hardship of humanity in His own flesh, dwelling not in a Temple spiritually, but as flesh and blood among humanity, wishing to remain with us until the end of time. This is a dramatic contrast to the affection, yet distance with which the Lord was regarded in the Old Testament.

Emmanuel- God with us- it finally springs the liturgical construct of “waiting” all through and admits that we knew He was there all along. Advent has that flavor, of a pretended waiting for Him Whom we know to have already arrived. We place ourselves in the shoes of those who had Him not in order to better appreciate Him Whom we have had all along.

We hail Christ as King and Lawgiver (Isaiah 32:22,) and echo the dying words of Jacob in Gen. 49:1O, “The scepter will not pass from Judah, nor a ruler form his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent. He is the expectation of the nations.” We ask Him to save us. The Latin “Salva”, the imperative form of “to save,” is related to “salus”, health, wholeness. We are asking for a well- being of mind, soul and body when we thus ask to be saved. We are, in fact, asking to finally be made perfect, fully whole and sound, something only God can do!

Lastly, we no longer beat around the bush. We come right out and directly call Jesus “our Lord and our God.” It is the crowning acclamation of faith to a long season of expectation.