Once upon a time, a colleague pointed out an implicit anti-semitism in our traditional carol, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. She suggested that singing about Israel needing to be ransomed with Christ as the atoning sacrifice was disrespectful of our Jewish sisters and brothers. Over the years I have remembered her challenge. I have sung the traditional words and refused to sing them, I have printed them for the congregation and printed alternatives. My sense is that the theology underneath the traditional words is about the human struggle with attachment and that though the offensive words are not helpful, this theological expression is worthy. Here is one attempt to reframe the familiar opening verse.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And move us from this worldly spell
Our spirits cry in exile here
Until the song of love appears.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
For love is coming now to dwell.