O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (ELW 257, st. 4)
4 O come, O Branch of Jesse, free
your own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell your people save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.
Text: Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Köln, 1710; tr. composite
Satan has fallen on hard times in western Christianity. He has become a relic of bygone historical eras when humanity needed an enemy to explain away things like illnesses and natural disasters. Although the powers of Satan are still felt in Christian communities around the world, we in the West like to say that we have science.
Yet, if Satan is a force that is greater than each of us, and one that can wreak havoc on communities and individuals, perhaps we are not quite as free from Satan's tyranny as we would like to think. Today's predatory capitalism, political polarization, and scientific capacities to clone or alter living beings are all enormous forces that wreak havoc — even if they were meant to help and heal us. In Ephesians 6, Paul called such forces "powers and principalities." Jesus Christ is born to save us from such tyrannies that have become bigger — and more powerful — than we ever intended them to be.
Please, Jesus, come and rescue us from tyranny of any kind. Help us see that our struggle is not against one another but against the forces that have given rise to our suffering and death. Amen.