Friday, December 20

O Come, O Come Emmanuel [9th century Latin]

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
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel

The Old Testament reference to the phrase "Key of David" is Isaiah 22:20-22. There, the prophet tells the palace secretary Shebna that he will be replaced by Eliakim, "On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah,  and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.   I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open."

The Key of David is also referenced in Revelation 3:7
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of the holy one, the true one,
who has the key of David,
who opens and no one will shut,
who shuts and no one opens:"

An easy way to think of this is what we mean when we give someone the key to the city.  They are honored as one who has unique authority in that place.  The Messiah is given the key to the city of Jerusalem, and the new Jerusalem too.  Thus he was, and is, and will be the one with authority.

The hymn says, "O come, Thou Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home" I imagine that is something like having the key to our hearts.  It also brings to mind Jesus' promise that he would make his home in us.  "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (John 14:23 NRSV).

It is the hope of Advent that Christ will come to us, and come to us again, and keep coming to us to "make safe the way that leads on high and close the path to misery."

Daily Collect
"O Come Thou Key of David, come!"  You hold the key to unlock our hearts and free them for selfless and loving service to all.  Make your home in our hearts and come in power to our cities where there is much misery and many in need of help.  Teach us Lord, how we can join you in the noble and holy work of bringing hope and reconciliation to a hurting world.  In the name of the One who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.  Amen.

Paul Lang