Sunday, December 21, 2008


I love stories. As the Christmas carols have been playing, I keep thinking about the story being told in the lyrics:

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

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!

I keep thinking about the words "ransom" and "captive", "mourns" and "exile". Powerful words that really stir my heart.

I've been thinking about a story that Donald Miller tells about a folk concert he attended with one of his friends. Don says:

"Between songs, though, he told a story that helped me resolve some things about God. The story is about his friend who is a Navy SEAL. He told it like it was true, so I guess it was true, although it could have been a lie.

The folksinger said his friend was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a building in some dark part of the world. His friend's team flew in my helicopter, made their way to the compound and stormed into the room where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The room, the folksinger said, was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified. When the SEALs entered the room, they heard gasps of the hostages. They stood at the door and called to the prisoners , telling them they were Americans. The SEALs asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn't. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and didn't believe their rescuers were really Americans.

The SEALs stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn't possibly carry everybody out. One of the SEALs, the folksinger's friend, got an idea. He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. None of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a little while until some of the hostages started to look at him, finally meeting his eyes. The Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them. Will you follow us? he said. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go. The story ends with all the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier." (Miller, Blue Like Jazz, p. 33-34)

And Miller shares how the story helped him see how Jesus came to us...Emmanuel...God with us.

I love stories.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

You picked my favorite Christmas song :)
During the caroling this morning at church I requested it and they had all guys lead... it sounded so cool. Our pastor talked a little bit about the words in those songs, and the meanings the words have and the things we think of when we hear certain powerful words.