Whenever Christmas rolls around, I get a little sad. I look back and am encouraged in the ways God worked in the past year, but also acutely aware of the things still hoped for—the things yet unseen (2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 11). I look back and have hope. I look forward and ache.
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” I tend to be a melancholy person, so a song in a minor key speaks my language of angst. But I think another reason it resonates with me is because it contains echoes of our collective longing. I find a kinship in this haunting song because, like the ancient Israelites, I am also mourning in exile, waiting for the Son of God to appear. I count myself among the “weary souls” we sing about in “O Holy Night.” I am waiting for Christ to return, and every unanswered prayer in my life today is a reminder that his return is still an awaited longing in my own soul.
This is also why I am drawn to the Psalms. At Advent, we often gravitate toward the same passages—Matthew’s genealogy, Luke 1–2, and the prophecies in Isaiah. But the Psalms have been a comfort to God’s people since this first songbook was put to parchment. They were the songs of ancient Israel as they were forced into exile and longed for their return. They were the songs of Israel’s greatest king as he faced persecution, struggles to ascend to the throne, and even his own sinfulness. They lived thousands of years before us, but they too were waiting for the Christ to come. And in their waiting, they sang of their experience. They sang of their questions. They sang of their sorrows. And they sang of their hope.
The Psalms continue to be the songs we sing or read in our ...1
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