On long road trips with my children, before the digital craze, we would play games in the car together. We would play auto-bingo, find the A,B,Cs using billboards, and one game, maybe inspired by Julie Andrews, called My Favorite Things. In this game the first person names a favorite something, and the next person in the game then answers with their favorite in the same category, and then changes the category to something else. So, for example, my favorite Beatles’ song is Martha, My Dear. The next person gives their favorite Beatles’ song, and etc. There was no winner or loser, but it helped pass the time.
I often think of this game, especially at this time of year when I start to hear my favorite Christmas carol, that technically isn’t a Christmas carol but an Advent Song: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This song was inspired by O’ Antiphons which were part of evening prayers from at least the eighth century. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the hopes of the Old Testament that proclaim the coming Christ, the Messiah.
Years ago I learned there are over 100 names for Jesus used in the Bible. O Come, O Come Emmanuel reminds us of some of those ancient titles. Titles that offer hope, titles that offer comfort for what is to come. King of Might, Morning Star, Key of David, and even Emmanuel (God is with us) should fill us with images of all that is possible with Christ.
Today’s modern world is rushed and hurried, overflowing with negative, bad news. Taking a few minutes to stop, to be still, and to enjoy the season may be hard to do, but Advent is all about the joyful, hopeful expectation of things to come. And that truly is one of my favorite things.