December 7th, 2020 by Sara Buffington
In my house, I have trained my kids not to answer the door for a stranger. This rule began when they were really young, and now they are just in the habit.
Picture this familiar occurrence: A stranger knocks on our door; the kids yell for me, “Mom! Mom! Someone is at the door!” I come running down the stairs, wedge the door open about 6 inches, and use one leg to keep our tiny, fluffy, and ferocious dog from barreling out the door to defend us. I then proceed to have an awkward, distracted conversation with (typically) the Spectrum or AT&T sales person while my dog yaps shrilly by my heels. Things are even more uncomfortable and awkward in the days of Covid--how far away is this person standing from me? The truth is, I really don’t want to answer the door to a stranger. It is such a hassle.
Now imagine we are waiting for an invited guest. We haven’t had many guests in 2020, but we used to regularly invite friends to our house for a casual dinner. When a friend was coming over for the first time, we would raise our blinds so we could see when their car pulled up. Someone in our family would literally watch from the window. We live in a neighborhood where the houses all look alike, so when we saw their car, we would throw open the door and wave them in from our porch. Even the dog could tell the difference, and though she might bark a time or two, she would sense her family’s relaxed and happy vibe and settle down quickly.
The carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” has me thinking of my two reactions to people at my door. This song is over a thousand years old (can you believe that?). Each verse of the song captures a prophecy made in the Old Testament about the Messiah, the promised deliverer of God’s people. He would be called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Each verse is a unique invitation. Come, Jesus, do what you have promised: put to flight death’s dark shadows, save your people, fill the world with heaven’s peace, etc.
The next time you hear or sing this song, think about the invitation you are extending. You are asking Jesus to come into your life, into your family, your community, and the world. You are drawing open the blinds of your home, peering out, watching for him, so you can wave him in. You’re ready! You don’t need to dodge him or crack the door only six inches, because his coming into your life and into our world means only wonderful, life-giving things. Rejoice!