[#pictureAdvent] 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.

(Refrain) Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

The journey toward Christmas begins tomorrow, and I am so thankful you have chosen to journey with us as a part of #pictureAdvent

You're joining other people of faith from at least 38 states in the US and dozens of people from outside the US as well - from Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, and South Africa.  (If I missed your country please share in the comments!)

You're joining a project that started out as a "let's try something new," that became clear very quickly that people were hungry for this kind of collaborative, comprehensive approach to the Advent journey.

As you embark on this journey, a few suggestions ...

  1. Be sure to spend time not only with our devotion writers but also exploring the scripture each devotion is based on. The great Story of our faith has so much to say ...
  2. Each day's devotion is written by a different minister, lay and clergy alike. That means that you are likely to connect with some of our writers better than others. If for some reason a specific writer doesn't connect with you or your family, don't give up! Chances are the next day's devotion will make a stronger connection. 
  3. Feel free to respond to the discussion and reflection questions in the comments - although we hope you're sharing the #pictureAdvent experience with your family at home and at church, the gathered community online can also be a place to make connections and share our faith!
  4. Pray. Be in prayer for your family, your church, and all those who are joining this #pictureAdvent journey. We'll be praying for you. 

So together, let's begin the hymn and beckon Jesus to us ... O come, O come, Emmanuel. Be with us. Be present with us in this journey. Be present with us in our lives. And let us look with excitement toward the moment of Incarnation we will be celebrating in a few short weeks. 

But let's not rush ... let's not lose the Advent experience of waiting, of wanting, of wishing ... it's much like a child before Christmas, but it's so much more. Waiting, wanting, wishing for a Savior. Waiting, wanting, wishing for God to come into our lives in new ways. 

Begin this journey in prayer and intention. God has so much in store for us. 

Let your prayer today be the words of the oh-so-familiar hymn ... 

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. Refrain

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave. 

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight. Refrain

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call. Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace. Refrain

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. Refrain