Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
The seventh “O” antiphon:
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
Last Saturday night, our family gathered to enjoy a service of “Lessons and Carols” Zoomed to our church from the living room of our worship leaders. Our three-year-old grandson Caleb played with toys around the edges. Suddenly, though, he said, “Mamãe! O come, O come!” (Caleb’s first language is Portuguese.)
Valerie and Cesar have been following a devotional with their Advent wreath using this hymn. Caleb was delighted to hear Chris and Elise singing it as part of Lessons and Carols. Last week when I was at their house, Caleb met me at the door saying, “Grammy, I need to show you something: O come, O come!” He took me to their Advent wreath and explained to me—in Portuguese and English—the meaning of each of the candles. Then he showed me their creche, where all the figures—including one of his small trucks—were lying down. He told me he had put them to sleep “until Baby Jesus comes.”
We went for a walk in his neighborhood. Caleb was amused by the various holiday decorations. But what caught his attention were the homes displaying a creche. Those he stopped to examine in detail, identifying the figures and telling me about them.
Emmanuel. God with us. God with us. Perhaps we’re so used to this concept we’ve become jaded. Perhaps we’ve forgotten what spectacular news this is: God taking on our flesh, living among us, feeling our joys, pains, and sorrows. Knowing hunger and thirst, our weariness, and finally, death.
For this last Waiting Room vignette, Scars, the setting is a grassy knoll beside Saint Mary’s Lake on Notre Dame’s campus. Karis had just received a diagnosis of avascular necrosis: her hip was collapsing, a side effect of long-time use of steroids to supplement her immunosuppressant, since she was so prone to rejection of her transplanted organs.
Karis was devastated. She took this last walk around Saint Mary’s Lake before submitting to the doctor’s “no weight bearing” order. Throwing herself down on the grass, she poured out her distress and grief to the Lord, and then lay there, waiting. And Jesus came to her, bearing on his body each one of her scars.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4, NKJV).