Christmas time can bring out very different reactions from different people. For many, it is a time of joy and giving. It is a time of parties & hearing from people we haven't heard from for a long time - a very special time of the year.
But for others, Christmas is a time of sadness, loneliness, depression and despair. Sure - we sing, "Joy to the world the Lord is come," "O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant," "Repeat the sounding joy," and "Tis the season to be jolly" - BUT joy - real joy seems to elude so many.
A survey a few years ago asked people if they were looking forward to Christmas. While most answered, "Yes," far too many said "No." When asked why, they gave a variety of answers, "Christmas reminds us of things that ought to be, but are not. Christmas is a time of love, but we feel very unloved."
"Christmas is a time of giving, but we don't want to give, or can't afford to give. Christmas is a family time, but there is anger and hostility within our family circles." You see, Christmas is a time of peace and good will, but too many are at war with themselves and with others.
That's why the beautiful carol, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" speaks so powerfully to our hearts. The carol reminds us of the amazing promise of prophet Isaiah that this child who was coming was to be called, Emmanuel - which means "God with us."
On Sunday, we will explore this ancient carol and the reasons it gives us that even in the midst of all of the pain and difficulty of life the coming of Emmanuel gives us reason to REJOICE!