Wednesday, December 28, 2016

DEV: Confirm your subscription for The Hope that is in You

Daily Devotional folks,


I need you to do something. I am trying a new delivery method for my devotions.


In the next 24-hours you should get an email from THE HOPE THAT IS IN YOU. This is from me. It will read something like: Confirm your subscription for The Hope that is in You


Hit confirm to continue to get my daily devotions.





Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dev: Dec 25 - Joy to the World

Joy to the world,

The Lord is come.

Let earth receive her King!


The Father of Hymns. That was the nickname for Isaac Watts (1674-1748), one of the first great English hymn writers. Known also for hymns like "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "Joy to the World" is Watts' Christmas classic. 


Except look in any old liturgical hymnal. "Joy to the World" is NOT a Christmas carol! No, it's an Advent hymn!


Christmas carols sing of Jesus' nativity, his birth. 


Advent Carols look forward. They either take us back to essentially wait with Israel to the first coming of the long prophesied Messiah. Therefore, we sing, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" or "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus."


The second set of hymns looks forward toward the coming of Christ from our vantage point, which will be, of course, the second coming. Songs like "Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending," point to Christ's return. Hymns like "Rejoice, rejoice, believers!" use second coming imagery from Jesus' prophecies at the end of Matthew, like, "See that your lamps are burning."


"Joy to the World" has a different focus (which is why I included it for Christmas Day!). It doesn't focus on past events - angels, shepherds, and a pregnant lady on a weary donkey, coming into a little town like Bethlehem. "Joy to the World" stands confidently in the present -- "the Lord IS come." It's not "did" come or "will" come someday in the future; rather, this is our present reality -- "The Lord IS come."


Monica Hunter writes, "'Joy to the World' was ... based on Psalm 98: Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth ... Rejoice and sing ... With trumpets ... make a joyful noise ... for he cometh to judge the earth ... and the people with equity. ... Christmas [may not] always be a joyful time, but when Jesus comes back, even the rocks will sing!"

Now, I don't care whether you sing "Joy to the World" in Advent ... or at Christmas ... or on any random third Thursday in any month starting with a "J." Rather, what I hope is that "no more [will we] let sins and sorrows grow" but that "every heart [will] prepare him room, and heav'n and nature [… and you!] [will] sing."


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is singing,

"Joy to the World"

and is wishing you,

"Merry Christmas"


Friday, December 23, 2016

Dev: Dec 24 - Hark the Glad Sound

Hark the glad sound!

The Savior comes,
The Savior promised long;
Let every heart prepare a throne
And every voice a song.


What is the glad sound that we are invited to harken to? Well, let me tell you a story ...


A seminary classmate of mine attended a small Christian college -- since she was older than most of us, this was probably fifty years ago now. 


Anyway, she had a classmate who was rabidly fascinated with the rapture. It seemed to be all he would talk about. He was eagerly waiting and wanting to hear the final trumpet! 


This trumpet call was, of course, the glad sound proclaimed in this hymn. And he'd be quick to tell you that it would be a very glad sound ... for believers. But for unbelievers, he would say, it would not be a glad sound at all. This would be the clarion call the final judgment was coming. (The rapture calling home believers first, and thus, the signal that the final judgment was approaching.)


Why I called him "rabidly fascinated, though, was that he was loudly certain that only a few people -- like him, of course -- would be good enough to be raptured immediately. He'd say, "When you hear the trumpet call, you'll see just a pile of clothes where I stood only moments before." The implication: "You'll still be here to see my pile of clothes, because you people, who only claim to be Christians, don't believe properly and will be left behind."


He didn't win many friends. 


So his supposedly heathen classmates decided to play a practical joke on him!


Late one night, the whole dorm got out of bed. They arranged their pajamas -- empty pajamas -- in bed, in positions like they'd been sleeping ... and had suddenly disappeared. 


Then they all went and hid, while a band member blew a loud trumpet. 


The young man awoke suddenly. Patting himself to see if he was still physical -- real. He was. In fact, why was he still here? 


He looked in his roommate's bed -- a nice, Christian boy who was nevertheless deemed a heathen. And yet, his bed was filled with empty pajamas. 


He checked across the hall. More heathens. But still more empty pajamas. 


He checked more rooms. More empty pajamas. 


He was running up and down the hall, crying, "Lord, you left me!"


Funny story! (Especially when it's the judgmental young man who gets his comeuppance!)


And yet the point is serious. What we believe -- or don't believe -- matters. We will all, one day, meet the Lord. And we will all be judged. And we will all be judged guilty. All of us. Read that again. Guilty. 


But ... for believers, Jesus will say, "Ahhh! This is one of mine. I died to take upon me her sins. She is forgiven."


This is Christmas Eve. The glad sound that most of us will be harkening to tonight will be carols singing of the sounds surrounding our Lord’s first coming. It will be the sound of angels, rejoicing, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” We will indeed be invited to harken to a different glad sound: “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”


Nevertheless, whether we’re preparing for Christmas … or for the second coming … or for a new awakening in our hearts, may we harken to one last call in this old Advent hymn:


Let every heart prepare a throne
And every voice a song.


In Christ's Love,

a guy who worries

that if he heard a trumpet

in the middle of the night,

would try to turn back over

and go back to sleep

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dev: Dec 23 - Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,

Once for favoured sinners slain;

Thousand, thousand saints attending

Swell the triumph of His train: Alleluia!

Christ appears on earth again.

Imagine the second coming. (Are you getting the sense that the second coming is an important Advent theme?) But imagine the second coming ...

This hymn proclaims part of what Jesus himself foretold about the second coming. At his final trial before Jesus and the Sanhedrin, Jesus said, "(You may think you're getting rid of me, but there will come a time when) from now on you will see the Son of Man ... coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Now, I added that first part, of course, but with wistful lovingkindness -- and without a hint of bitterness or sarcasm -- can't you hear Jesus pointing beyond the murderous present to the redemptive future. "When the time comes, lo, he will come on clouds, descending!"

Again ... picture it!

And who are the royal servants, attending the coming King?

The ultimate answer is "all the company of heaven." And we normally think of this as hosts of angels. But that's not what this hymn sings! Attending Jesus, making up his figurative train, are all the saints. "Thousand, thousand!"

And who are the saints? It's not just St. Peter and St. Paul and the like. Rather, any believer who dies and ascends to heaven becomes a "saint."

That's what we remember and proclaim, of course, on All Saints Sunday.

And that's what the Apostle Paul proclaimed in 2 Corinthians 5:8 - saying essentially, "to be absent from the body [is] to be at home with the Lord."

And that's part of what we should hopefully see when someone says, "Imagine the second coming" ...

Thousand, thousand saints attending

Swell the triumph of His train

In Christ's Love,

a guy who'll one day

be part of a train

(Ed Thomas the tank engine?

Probably not. I'll just be

satisfied to be a caboose

in Christ's entourage)

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dev: Dec 22 - Fling Wide the Door

Fling wide the door,

Unbar the gate;

The King of Glory

Comes in state.


Have you ever flung a door wide open?


I accidentally did this a few days ago. My hands were full of groceries. I gripped. I pulled. And the spring tensioning rod ripped off the door, and thrown off balance, I and my groceries almost sprawled across the front steps. (To be fair, it wasn’t a wild flinging that I did! I’d noticed the day before that one of the tension rod’s screws was missing and the other was loose and floppy. Nevertheless, it was almost me who flopped.)


Loose screws aside, flinging a door is a sign of great passion!


Probably more of us have flung more doors in anger than excitement (Oops); nevertheless, this hymn sings powerfully of the excited brand of door flinging. Something good – momentous – is happening.


The closest equivalence I can think of is a soldier coming home. Imagine a World War II scene. Mom is baking a pie, and she looks out the window as a car pulls up at the end of a long country driveway. A tall lean figure in uniform tugs a duffel bag out of the backseat he’d been hitchhiking in. Mom squints. Her breath catches. Then she screams, “Bobby’s home!”


And a door gets flung off the hinges and mom, with dad behind her, rush out to meet their long-lost son.


That’s probably what the Father of the prodigal did? “My boy! He’s home!” And while they probably didn’t have joyfully creaking screen doors on long front porches in an ancient Israel,  I’ll bet that there was nevertheless some front door flinging going on as the father proclaimed, “My son who was lost has been found.”


The question is: Why does this hymn talk about front-door-flinging? It’s because the King of Glory is coming. When Jesus first came, angels rejoiced. Shepherds hurried to Bethlehem. And wisemen traversed wide deserts to see where the star led. When Jesus first came, he was greeted as young man in Jerusalem with crowds of “Hosanna!”


Christ’s coming brought a promise of peace and hope. That’s why there was such door-flinging joy.


And yet, it was only a promise. A first hint. As long as sinful humans live on a sinful planet, the majestic overtures will only be hints to the greater glory to come.


Wait … Read that last phrase again. “The greater glory to come.” This is a future tense statement. Christmas and Palm Sunday and any door-flinging greeting of Jesus on earth was past-tense. It happened two thousand years ago.


But … this song doesn’t say, “Flung wide the door.” It’s not past tense. It’s anticipatory! It’s future-focused. And what’s the forward focused event worthy of flinging doors? It’s Christ’s coming again.


Is that your focus when you contemplate the second coming of Christ? This hymn invites us to “raise a shout of holy mirth.” Are you looking forward to the Savior’s victory with holy hilarity? Are you celebrating the “Son of bliss who fills our lives and makes us his”?


That’s what Advent is all about! It reminds us that this world is joyfully temporary. And why do I just “joyful” and “temporary” in the same sentence? Because something better’s coming!


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who doesn’t

like door flinging.

(When I flung my door recently,

I had to spend thirty minutes

tracking down new screws for

the stripped holes in my door)








Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dev: Dec 21 - On Jordan's Bank

On Jordan’s bank, the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake, and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings of the King of kings!

Then cleansed be every heart from sin;
Make straight the way for God within;
Prepare we in our hearts a home
Where such a mighty Guest may come.


When I was young, I wasn’t sure why we Lutherans were singing about a bunch of people from another denomination. Yes, I wondered: “Who are all of these Baptists, standing along the banks of the Jordan River? And why are they crying?!”


Punctuation matters!


This song, I hope you know, is not talking about a bunch of Baptists crying out!


This is about the cry of the Baptist – of, indeed, John the Baptist. And yes, this is his – the Baptist’s – cry.


And what was John the Baptist crying during the Advent (the dawning and coming) of our Lord Jesus Christ? John was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, saying to us, essentially, “Make straight the way for God within.”


John the Baptist was, indeed, “the voice of one, crying in the wilderness.” Like Elijah, the “wild man” and prophet who dressed in camel’s hair and lived in the wilderness, John the Baptist was the promised prophet (in the form of Elijah) who would “prepare a way for the Lord.”


John did that through baptisms. He called Israel to the Jordan and impelled them to repent.


That was then. The question is now, “How are you preparing a way for the Lord in your life?”


·         Is your heart, soul, mind, and strength “awake[ning]”?


·         Are you listening for and trusting in the “glad tidings of the King of kings!”


·         Is your “heart … be[ing] … cleansed … from sin”?


·         Are you living with integrity by “mak[ing] straight the way for God within”?


·         Are you “prepar[ing] in [y]our hearts a home” for Jesus, “the mighty Guest,” to “come” and dwell with you?

That’s the call of Advent! That’s what the Baptist (and perhaps the Baptists) are crying about!


In Christ’s Love,

a Lutheran who on

Jordan’s banks in Israel

renewed his baptism

(Join us at worship

on January 1 as we offer

a chance to renew

your Baptism!)


Monday, December 19, 2016

Dev: Dec 20 - Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free.


In about 1745, hymn-writer and revivalist Charles Wesley wrote this great hymn. And greatness is an appropriate word for Wesley’s craft, because he sure didn’t waste many words!


Come, Thou long expected Jesus: In the first line of this hymn, Wesley introduces the main character of our faith – Jesus. And in this season of Advent, he describes a key trait to consider: Jesus is the “long expected” one. He is the “long expected” Messiah, the one promised and anticipated by Israel for at least a thousand years. And what should we say when we contemplate our Messiah? “Come!” Come to me. Come to us. Come and transform this sin-battered world.


Born to set Thy people free: And when the Son of God comes, what will it be like? Well, he won’t just “come,” like some ghost or spirit, mysteriously appearing. This won’t be a “typical” theophany, like the Father Almighty speaking from a burning bush or a whirlwind. No. In the incarnation, Jesus’ coming will be personal … and in-person. He will be “born”! He’ll “humble himself,” as Philippians 2 tells us, and come in “human form,” which to God means coming as a “slave.” And when he “comes,” what do we expect him to do? He will come to set us, “[his] people,” “free.” Freedom! That’s the purpose of his coming.


From our fears and sins release us: This is a factual statement. This is the role of the Savior. He will “release us” “from our fears and sins.” Yes, factual statement. And yet … Wesley skillfully renders this also as a prayer. We’re singing, “[Dear Jesus,] from our fears and sins release us.”


And the prayer continues: “Let us find our rest in Thee.” Rest is an important role of the Messiah. Jesus will invite people – see Matthew 11 – to “come to me, all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Israel's strength and consolation: Jesus will tell us that he came first for the Jews, God’s chosen people. He is indeed, “Israel’s strength.” He is “Israel’s … consol[ing assurance].”


But it’s bigger than that! When Wesley coaches us to sing, Hope of all the earth Thou art. He’s really inviting us to know and proclaim that Jesus is more than just “Israel’s strength.” He’s the “hope of all the earth.”

And still bigger than that … He’s the
Dear Desire of every nation. He’s the Joy of every longing heart.


Wait? Does “every nation” truly “desire” Jesus? Does “every … heart” truly “long[ ]” for him? The answer is “no” … and “yes!”


Whether we’re conscious of it or not, what every heart truly and ultimately longs for is Jesus. We’re incomplete without him … because without him, sin and death ultimately reign. But with him, there is “joy” and “hope,” forgiveness and “release.” With Jesus, there’s “strength” and “rest” and “consolation.”


Did you know you were singing all of that? Did you know you were praying all of that when singing this song?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who took 600 words

to explain Wesley’s 40!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dev: Dec 19 - People, Look East

People, look east. The time is near

Of the crowning of the year.

Make your house fair as you are able –

Trim the hearth and set the table.

People, look east and sing today:

Love, the Guest, is on the way.


Have you ever sung a song without ever really pondering the lyrics?


Today, as I stopped to ponder, I wondered, Why look east?


My first thought swept me to the Christmas narratives. “East” is an important direction in part of the story. Remember the wise men from the east who followed the star? Ahh! Yes! Except they were people who were looking west. They were from the east – east of the Jordan River, probably from Persia – but they were looking at that star in the western sky. That star in the west finally drew them to Israel (generally), Jerusalem (regionally), and Bethlehem (specifically). Therefore, the wise men can’t be the inspiration for being people who look east.


So … what does this line mean?


Well, I’ve got a secret to tell you … I loved looking it up and finding it out! Why? Because the author of these words – set to the old French tune, besancon – was a fascinating woman. Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) wrote eighty – eighty! – children’s books and poem collections. Her most famous were Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard, and The Little Bookroom.


Farjeon’s books won several awards, like The Hans Christian Andersen Award and The Carnegie Medal. But she refused perhaps the highest award offered to her – Dame of the British Empire – because she “did not wish to become different from the milkman.” Thus, perhaps her most enduring award had to come posthumously, when the Children’s Book Circle established The Eleanor Farjeon Award in her honor.


Ms. Farjeon also wrote lyrics (or at least had some of her poetry set to song), and perhaps her most famous song is Morning Has Broken. I grew up singing this song in church, not knowing that singer Cat Stevens made it famous first as an early 70’s folk song.


People, Look East, published first in a 1928 collection of carols, has gained increasingly popularity in recent decades. And what it’s opening line calls us to do is look to the horizon. A new day is dawning. The sun is rising, and the Son – the Son of God – is set to come again.


This is, therefore, a joyful, expectant call. And the rest of this verse is an invitation to “green” – or decorate – our house for the Christmas season. Ms. Farjeon encourages us to, “Make your house fair as you are able.” What is the last hymn that calls you to, “Trim the hearth and set the table”?! She celebrates, indeed, the festivities of the season.


But, why? Because Jesus who is “Love,” Jesus who should be our “Guest,” is truly “on the way.”


Are you ready?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who looks east

from his own house

and sees a big white dog

that likes to bark


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dev: Dec 17-18 - Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying

Wake, awake,

for night is flying,

The watchmen on the

heights are crying;

Awake, Jerusalem, at last.


Perhaps my favorite Advent Hymn is “Wake, Awake.” With soaring music from Johann Sebastian Bach, I feel lifted up on high – almost as if I’m one of the “watchmen on the heights.”


This Advent hymn isn’t a cute carol pointing to donkeys and sheep and a baby in a manger. This is a thoroughly apocalyptic hymn. It points not to the first coming of Jesus at Christmas … but to the second coming of Christ at the end of the age.


And Jerusalem is absolutely called to “awake”!


Now, Jerusalem is, of course, the focal point of God’s story … at least in earthly locals. Jerusalem is obviously the home of David and the location of the Temple. But did you know that temple was located on the very spot where God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his own son, Isaac? Indeed, instead of a human death, God provided a sacrificial lamb/ram to take Isaac’s place. That’s the spot!


And at that spot, the Savior of the Nations was born. Bethlehem, indeed, was just a few miles outside the city walls. Furthermore, in the life of Jesus the Messiah, one of the richest prophetic moments occurred when Jesus fulfilled the words of Zechariah and the precise timing of Daniel as he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of Hosanna.


Finally, Jesus, forty days after his resurrection, ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives – which is the Jerusalem hill that overlooks the Temple Mount. And prophetically, It is believed that when Christ returns, he will descend upon that exact same spot.


Therefore, our song asks, will Jerusalem be ready when Christ comes again? (“Awake, Jerusalem, at last.”)


And then the next question is … Will you be ready?


The rest of this hymn references all of Jesus’ own prophecies at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. He is the bridegroom. And the bridesmaids and maidens (us) are called to keep our wicks trimmed and our lamps lit. We are called to be ready for the Son of Man will come again like a thief in the night.


Therefore, the song sings …


Midnight hears the welcome voices,

And at the thrilling cry rejoices:

“Come forth, you maidens! Night is past.

‘The bridegroom comes! Awake;

Your lamps with gladness take!” Alleluia!

Rise and prepare the feast to share;

Go, meet the bridegroom, who draws near.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who writes this,

yawning, at the end of a day

… and yet if there’s a

“feast to share,” I’ll be glad

to awaken and draw near



Zion hears the watchmen singing,

And all her heart with joy is singing.

She wakes, she rises from her gloom.

Her dear friend comes down,

all glorious, the strong in grace,

in truth victorious:  Her star is ris’n;

her light is come. Now come,

O Blessed One, Lord Jesus,

God’s own Son.  Sing hosanna!

Oh, hear the call!  Come one, come all,

and follow to the banquet hall.



Gloria!  Let heav’n adore You!

Let saints and angels sing before You,

With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone.

Gates of pearl, twelve portals gleaming,

Lead us to bliss beyond all dreaming,

With angel choirs around Your throne.

No eye has caught the light,

No ear the thund’ring might of such

glory.  There we will go:

what joy we’ll know!

There sweet delight will ever flow.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dev: Dec 16 - Oh, Come - Verse 2

Oh, come, oh, come great Lord of might

Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height.

In ancient times once gave the Law

In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel


Yesterday, I reminded you that the word Emmanuel means “God is with us.” Today, let’s look at another verse from this favorite Advent carol.


Who is the God who is with us?


“Oh, come, oh, come great Lord of might,” sings the second verse. How do we know God’s might? Well, this verse points us backward. It reminds us of the Exodus, of how God rescued Israel from their captivity in Egypt. Indeed, as this verse sings of an aspect of the Exodus – the giving of the Commandments on Mt. Sinai – it sings also of the attributes of our “great Lord of might.” He is the transcendent one who descended on “Sinai’s height … in cloud and majesty and awe.” Why? To “g[i]ve the Law.”


Do you see it? In a few short, lines, we hear that God is … mighty.


He is also righteous. (The Law is God’s gift to his people.)


Furthermore, God is the deliever. Indeed, the line, “cloud and majesty and awe,” remind us of how God delivers. In fact, it should draw our hearts back to how God led his people step-by-step from bondage and toward victory. Remember how he did it? He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.


The point? God is the mighty deliverer. And …


if he could deliver captives from slavery in Egypt, then he could deliver his people from Exile in Babylon. And …

if he could deliver Exiles from Babylon, then he can deliver you from your bondages?


Do you see the pattern, the hope, and the promise? What are your bondages and enslavements? Isn’t it time to be set free? Do you believe that God is the source for deliverance? And do you believe that he has the power to do this? That’s what this verse – and a whole Old Testament full of prophecy – is all about.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who can almost see

the cloud and majesty and awe

when I sing this carol

(and to think, some people

have to buy drugs to

be transported so high)


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dev: Dec 15 - Oh, Come - Verse 1

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel.


Advent is a season of dawning and anticipation. One of the great carols of the season – Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel – sings of the prophecies upon which we’ve been reflecting.


The key word, Emmanuel, is a prophetic key itself. In Isaiah 7, in the midst of Israel’s rebellion, God pauses the calls to repentances and warning of judgment to remind the people that there is hope eternally for all who trust in the Lord. Thus, the Lord pauses the warnings to proclaim, “14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”


And what is the significance of that last word? Well, when the angel reminds a struggling Joseph of this prophecy (see Matthew 1:22-23), the angel proclaims the long-promised truth: Emmanuel means – and is a sign – that “God is with us.”


Is that your prayer? “Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel”? Come Jesus into my life? Come Lord and be with me?


Well, it was surely Israel’s prayer.


Israel needed – needed desperately – to be rescued. The prophecies and warnings of God through Isaiah would not be heeded. Like a good father, God would discipline Israel. For their long term good, he’d let a foreign power literally carry them away from their rebellion and into a season of literal exile. They needed to be rescued. They needed to be ransomed.


Ransom is a financial term. It means buying back – literally from captivity – which is just about the very next line of the song. Israel understood their plight. They “mourn[ed] in lonely exile.” They needed to be bought back. They needed to be redeemed – another financial term for buying back.


And first, they would be brought back. The Persians would defeat the Babylonians – Israel’s conquerers. Then God would convince King Cyrus, the Persian, to send the Israelites home. Yes, first the Israelites would be brought back.


But that’s not what ransom or redeeming means. The deeper need is to be bought back. We don’t need just a change in our temporary, physical location. We need a permanent change in our spiritual condition. If we’re going to be truly free, somehow someone needs to pay the penalty for our sin … eternally.


That’s what Israel (and all creation) was (and is) ultimately longing for. And they were longing for it whether they knew it or not. Sin is our greatest problem. It is our greatest bondage. Sin is what ultimately keeps us from peace, joy, and hope.


Sin, indeed, is what keeps us from God. And we have no Emmanuel, no true and meaningful experience of God being with us, and long as our sins distract us from the life that is life and God who is light.


So what Israel needed, whether they knew it or not, was not to be brought back from a physical, political exile, but to be bought back from the spiritual exile caused by sin.


What they were longing for, whether they knew it or not, was the Redeemer – the Messiah who in dying would pay the penalty for their sins.


What they were longing for, whether they knew it or not … No! What you are longing for, whether you know it or not, is the Redeemer – Emmanuel! God with us! – who can end our exile, put us back in relation with God, and restore to us peace, joy, and hope.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s mourned

in lonely exile and wants

to sing in joyful worship