Thursday, December 6, 2018

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!



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.


How I love that old hymn! The words (centuries old). The tune (dating to 15th century France). It so well captures the longing of the ancient Israelites for the coming of a promised Messiah . . . and our longing for His return. 

Emmanuel. God with Us.

On Christmas Eve, I like to slip outside after dark for a few quiet moments alone with God, and this hymn often plays through my mind.

The night might be starry or thick with heavy clouds or filled with dancing snowflakes—but there’s always a sense of anticipation, an almost magical hush, a wonderful stillness to the night. It’s as if the whole of mankind is pausing from its frantic, noisy gyrations to listen for “the still, small voice" of God as our souls yearn for a deeper connection with our Creator.

During those quiet, thankful moments spent reflecting on the gift of God’s Son, I never fail to feel His presence and His peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

During the coming days as Christmas approaches, commit to deliberately set aside a few minutes daily to reflect on the momentous gift we were given 2,000 years ago—a bridge to our Heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ. And the assurance that He will return and fulfill the promises made to us, God’s children.

Today please share with us what makes YOUR Christmas Eve special--what draws you closer to Emmanuel? Do you attend worship services? Gather with family or friends? Read the Christmas story? Listen to songs of reverent and joyful celebration?

To celebrate this advent season, I’m giving away a copy of two of my earlier Love Inspired Christmas releases on Kindle – High Country Holiday and The Pastor’s Christmas Courtship! If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win, mention it in the comments section!

Wishing all of you a beautifully meaningful Christmas!
Glynna


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52 comments:

  1. I love this beautiful hymn... God with us. Yes... and the season of waitful anticipation is one of my favorites... with some cookies involved, of course!

    Glynna, so very nice to have you here today!!! You are such a blessing to so many. Wishing you all the good and wondrous things of the season!

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  2. Good morning, Ruthy! I love this season of both looking to the past and to the long-promised future.

    My "good and wondrous thing of the season" THIS morning is that we got a dusting of snow rather than two feet. :)

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    1. Glynna, I live in New Hampshire and I sympathize. A "dusting" of snow rather than two feet is cause for celebration.

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    2. How nice!! No shoveling today!! :)

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  3. What a beautiful reminder to slow down and rejoice over all that God has done for us. I absolutely love the old hymns. Modern Christian music keeps me happy throughout the day, but the hymns I learned in my childhood are the mainstay of memories.

    We enjoy an old-fashioned German Christmas Eve at my aunt's house. Lovely tradition complete with the Christmas stollen.

    I always envy your Christmases since they're pretty much guaranteed to be white, LOL. In Longmont, we're kind of hit and miss. Enjoy your holiday, Glynna and so good to have you with us today!

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    1. Audra I responded to this but when I returned to my post later, it had disappeared - for some reason even though I hit "reply" it appears as an "independent" comment farther below -- sorry you have to go in search of it!

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  4. Our Christmas Eve evening is spent at my parents' house with my dad's side of the family. Instead of doing a big, sit-down meal, we all bring appetizer-type things and snack as we arrive. Some people go to church that afternoon or evening, so everyone tends to show up at different times, and this "grazing" way works better than trying to have a specific dinner time.

    In the past we've done midnight mass (back when it was actually at midnight), but usually we go to Christmas morning mass. We open presents before church, but we don't rush it, so if there isn't time we just save some to open after church.

    This year, since our youngest is getting big enough to skip her nap some days, we might do a Christmas Eve mass, and have a more relaxed Christmas morning schedule.

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    1. Hello, Beth! I like that idea of "grazing" on Christmas Eve. Lower stress and lots of flexibility. And I like your "no rushing" policy, too.

      Because our church membership is fairly large and will also be accommodating holiday-only churchgoers, this year we're having SIX Christmas Eve services -- first one starts at noon and the last at 7:30. The earlier services are easier on folks with kids and who are hosting company, too.



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    2. Beth, it gets easier as they get older! :)

      We just have Christmas Eve services unless, of course, Christmas falls on a Sunday (which throws off the whole normal schedule!). :)

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  5. I love the stillness you describe, Glynna! I'm in a season of life (can anyone say "two teen boys?") where stillness is a precious commodity that only seems to come along once or twice through the season.

    I love sitting with the Christmas lights on and soaking in the quiet as I spend time in the Bible. Though we didn't put up a tree this year, I also enjoy sitting in front of it in the dark with only its lights on. And yes, going outside at night and letting the largeness of God's sky remind me that, though small, I am seen by Him.

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    1. Good morning, Jeanne! I imagine with two teenagers, stillness IS a rare happening in your household! Any quiet time that can be carved out is indeed precious. Amazing, isn't it, to step outside at night for a few minutes and feel God's presence?

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    2. Jeanne, I also love sitting by the tree in the dark. It's a good time for reflection.

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    3. Yes, Glynna, that time outside at night? There's not anything much more peaceful than that!

      Kathy, you're right. That time in the soft, dim light is perfect for reflection. :)

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  6. Good morning, Audra! Those German Christmas Eve traditions sound special. Especially the stollen! YUM!

    Growing up in Iowa we pretty much had white Christmases, but in Missouri, as well as southern Illinois and southern Indiana (both across the river from Kentucky), it was often not. I grew to love "brown" Christmases where there were no traveling issues for the holidays! :)

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    1. That's so interesting, Glynna! I grew up with rare white Christmases so we always longed for snow and didn't think much about traveling. :)

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  7. Glynna, this is deep. Good to hear from you.
    I am not exactly enjoying these posts (which would imply party hats and balloons!), but I am relishing them on a deeper level. I'm seeing more of an emphasis on Advent in the Christian community, both here and in my church, and it's touching my soul.
    I'm not doing as much running around this year, smaller family and different priorities, but I still love the point on Christmas Eve when it all stops. When you just can't physically "do" any more and you rest in His presence. We go to our church's service and I enjoy celebrating with the people with whom I've been through so much.
    My WIP is a Christmas story and ends on Christmas Eve, so I'm going through all that with my heroine at the same time.
    Don't enter me in the drawing, I have both books. In paperback.
    Having a light day, may be back later.
    Kathy Bailey
    Anticipating His coming in New Hampshire

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    1. Good morning, Kathy! Yes, this is a special time and I'm glad the Church as a whole is remembering Advent, the pausing to reflect on what was and what is yet to come.

      It sounds as if writing a Christmas-set story DURING the Christmas season is taking you deeper into the season--and that will be reflected strongly in your writing.

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    2. Well, shucks. I had a comment here and it got erased. Sigh. :) Kathy, I've noticed much more being said about Advent around the web this year too. I've had . . . a year . . . and the thoughts on Advent have been refreshing to my spirit. I hope your Christmas season and your Christmas Eve holds many moments of stillness and intimacy with our Savior.

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  8. Thanks so much Glynna for sharing. I love attending our church's Christmas Eve candlelight service and then once the kids are in bed, sitting in the dark beside the Christmas tree (only the tree is lit) and listening to soft carols. That quiet moment is a treasured time where I think about the past year and try to see the blessings, even in the middle of the mess. Christmas morning comes and we read Luke's account before the kids tear into their gifts.
    Just writing that stirs my heart! I love Christmas! Lol
    Please enter me in your draw.
    (Lee-Ann B)

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    1. Hi, Lee-Ann!!! I love a candlelight service most of all. And sitting in the dark with the lit tree or candles is so special. And counting blessings. And listening to quiet carols. I love your traditions!

      Do you do anything traditionally "southwestern" during the holidays? The tree in my office this year is decorated with chili pepper lights and ornaments like miniature Native American pottery, little cowboy hats, saguaro cactus and other southwestern themed things.

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    2. Those are very cool ideas! We live in the Great White North, and my husband is from Quebec. Food is a big thing for our family - tourtiere, buche de noel (yule log), chocolate and pastries... We try to go ice skating or sledding on Christmas Day depending where wer are. If we are in Quebec there is always an abundance of snow, but near Toronto it varies from year to year.

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    3. Oops, sorry, Lee-Ann. I wasn't quite awake and I mistook you for another Lee Ann B who has frequented Seekerville and lives in Arizona.

      Those French holiday sweets sound WONDERFUL, and skating and sledding on Christmas day would be so much fun. Just like in a story or a Hallmark movie! I haven't gone sledding or ice skating in AGES.

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  9. Glynna, I love this hymn, too. Though I confess that I didn't used to, but now it's become one of my favorites.
    Christmas eve for us is usually a candlelight service, followed by gathering with family. Though since we've moved, it's usually just hubby, me and our two adult sons. The rest of the girls and their families will come later in the week. And now that it's just the boys, we try to do something fun and out of the ordinary. Not sure what that will be this year. Guess I'd better put my thinking cap on.

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    1. Mindy, I'll be interested to hear what you decide!

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    2. Mindy -- Even though it was in the hymnals when I was growing up, I really don't remember being aware of the song until when I was in college.

      I like the sound of the candlelight services several of you have mentioned. Our church hasn't done one in ages -- although traditionally all the lights are turned out at the end of the Christmas Eve service, candles lit, and Silent Night sung accompanied only by a guitar.

      Like Missy, I wonder what you'll come up with to do! :)

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  10. This is our music director's favorite carol, so we sing it every year. 😊 Our church has a candlelit ceremony every Christmas Eve, but we haven't gone since the first year we joined the church, because our boys are just too wiggly to allow us to worship. My in-laws now have made this the usual night for driving around to look at Christmas lights and stopping for hot chocolate.

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    1. Lila, it's tough when the kids are little. Looking at lights was always a favorite thing of mine when I was a kid! We would look at lights, then go eat at Pizza Hut (the only place open), and then go to an 11 pm candle light service. Such great memories!

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    2. Lila -- I can't imagine trying to hang on to little kids at a candlelight service when they're already pretty "wired" with anticipation for Christmas Day!

      We used to drive around nearby neighborhoods after the Christmas Eve service, too, to see all the lights. I remember in one town we lived in, one neighborhood had lantern-type yard lights year-round and they'd all wrap them like candy canes at Christmas time!

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  11. I enjoyed the post, Glynna. I also think there is a silence on Christmas Eve that is special. We go to church on Christmas Eve and usually light candles at the end as we sing Silent Night, then we walk out into the quiet night.

    I have to ask if anybody else out there opens presents on Christmas Eve. That's what we do after church. I grew up that way and so did my husband, so we have continued that. We do stockings on Christmas morning. When I was little, the Santa presents would be under the tree on Christmas morning.

    No need to enter me in the drawing. I have both of those books!

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    1. Sandy, we always opened one present on Christmas Eve. But the rest was the next morning with Santa gifts.

      We love to open gifts first thing in the morning, followed by a special breakfast.

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    2. Sandy -- we sing silent night with candles lit at the end of the Christmas Eve service, too.

      Growing up we always opened presents on Christmas Day except for the ones sent from my grandparents in Texas which were opened on Christmas Eve. Now as adults we open our presents after the Christmas Eve service.

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  12. My parents always had a birthday party for Jesus. We would eat supper. I remember it was usually sloppy joes. Then we would gather in the living room. When we were little Dad would read Luke 2:1-20. As we became teenagers we would quote the passage together.

    Mom would go in the kitchen and return with an angel food cake sprinkled with powdered sugar. On the cake were candles. One for each family member who had accepted Jesus as their Savior. As each of us kids accepted the Lord a new candle was added. Mom lit the candles and we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

    We ate the cake along with homemade eggnog.

    Then one at a time Dad passed out the gifts that were wrapped under the tree. We would take turns opening our presents.

    Even last year we still did this. It was just me and my Dad but we still had cake and eggnog and quoted the Christmas story together. I will always remember that special moment since it was to be my last Christmas with him.

    Even though it will just be me this year I plan to carry on the tradition.

    My church does not have a Christmas Eve service. Instead we have a Christmas morning service.

    It is great to have you back Glynna Kaye.

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    1. Wilani, what a special tradition! I'm so glad you shared it. I'll be praying for you as you carry on the tradition this year.

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    2. Thanks Wilani! It's great to BE back! Been a too-crazy year, I'm afraid!

      I really like the birthday party for Jesus, Wilani! And what a wonderful tradition with the candles on the cake. So very special that you and your Dad shared your last Christmas together like that. You'll treasure that memory forever. And I know God will make it a special time with Him this year, too.

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  13. What a beautiful post, Glynna! Just reading it made me feel that special peace you talked about when going outside on Christmas Eve. A little snow would make that moment perfect, so let's hope we might get to see a few snowflakes here in Georgia! :)

    We have a candlelight service at church that is always so moving. I'm in the choir, so I get to see the faces of the congregation as they light the candles from person to person while singing Silent Night. It's a beautiful, celebratory thing!

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    1. Hi, Missy! Thanks for holding down the fort while I've been out and about. Have to dash again in a few minutes--drizzling at the moment, getting darker, and the temps are dropping so looks like more snow soon!

      Singing in the choir this time of year would be so special, being able to see all the faces aglow. Seems like a lot of folks here sing Silent Night to candlelight to close their Christmas Eve services.

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  14. Hi Glynna. As others have said, Christmas Eve candlelight service is very special. The singing of Silent Night tops it off. Christmas for me is whenever my two boys are home to celebrate it, and even if that's Dec 26 or 27 or whenever, that's my favorite time!

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    1. Cindy, my favorite time is when all the kids are home. :)

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    2. Hi, Cindy! More candlelight and Silent Night. Neat to think that so many of us are following similar traditions at the end of Christmas Eve services all over the country and world!

      I agree--Christmas can be any time--not even anywhere near December. I remember growing up when one year we couldn't get together with my Iowa family for Christmas -- and they came to visit in July when we all opened our presents and celebrated together!

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  15. On Christmas Eve, we all attend church, and then have a meal together. If we haven't watched SCROOGE yet, then we pull out that movie and watch it as a family.

    I love the image of you stepping outside for a moment of communion with God on Christmas Eve.

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    1. Erica - I've tried several times to "reply" under your post, but it keeps going down below, so you'll have to look for it!

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  17. Erica -- When I was kid we always watched the Mr. Magoo version of A Christmas Carol. :) I like the George C. Scott version, too. We also used to take turns reading it out loud to each other as a family time, and I remember when I was in 7th grade we actually studied it in English class. I think I have it on Kindle--should probably read it sometime between now and Christmas!

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  18. Hi Glynna! Our church holds a shortened service Christmas Eve where we gather to sing the old hymns (your song is my favorite too), the Pastor preaches on the birth of Jesus, we wish each person a Merry Christmas and then go home. The week before, we have a children's Christmas play. We have a small congregation, so there aren't many kids, but the leader makes it fun for them. They also each get a paper bag filled with treats from one of the ladies. It's always a special time :-)

    At home, we open one of our gifts on Christmas Eve and reflect on the true meaning...Jesus's birth. Love reading the account in scripture, there's just something reverent about it on Christmas Eve :-)

    Please add my name in the stocking to win your books, thank you so much!

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  19. Hi, Trixi! It sounds as if you have a lovely service, and I like the way your church incorporates the kids into the season.

    I agree--there's something extra special about reading the Biblical account of Christ's birth on Christmas Eve. It just seems to come alive, doesn't I?

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  20. That is one of my favorite hymns. Please enter me. Merry Christmas! I’m Paula Shreckhise but google sometimes doesn’t like me so today I’m anonymous! Our Church has a Candlelight service on Christmas Eve. It is usually packed with relatives visiting.

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    1. Hi, Paula! Google can be so contrary sometimes. But your name's joined the others in the stocking!

      Families joining together for Christmas Eve services is SO special.

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  21. I enjoyed reading your post and all of the comments. I love that our church always has a Christmas program and that the story never grows old!
    Merry Christmas!

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  22. And I would love to be entered for you ebooks!

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  23. Hi, Connie! So true. The story never grows old!

    I've enjoyed reading the comments, too -- and remembering Christmases past. :)

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