At various points in my life, I gravitate toward certain things more than others. Maybe we all do that, or maybe I am a fickle sort. Either way, for at least the last five or so years, it seems I have a particular affection for a certain title for our God. More than any of the other names or titles that have been attributed to our God, the one I find particularly meaningful is Emmanuel.
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel (which means God with Us). [Matthew 1:23]
The implications of such a startling reality is that God is not out there; the God of the universe is not content to watch from afar or shout directives from a distance. In Jesus, God is with us. This has always been and will always be God’s way as revealed in the Scriptures from beginning to end (Genesis 3:8; Revelation 21:2-3). In a remarkable way, God has come to be with us in Jesus, and it is during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany that we are prompted to remember and realign our lives to this reality of the one called Emmanuel.
In Emmanuel we are reminded that:
- we are not alone;
- we are accompanied;
- we are created to have a capacity for relationship with one another, with creation, and with the one who made it all;
- we have an ally who is for us and near us (even in us);
- we can be in constant communion with our Maker and Molder;
- we can take comfort that he is not far from any of us [Acts 17:27].
Make these familiar words your prayer today and throughout this Advent season:
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!
[Stanza 5, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”]
[Photo credit: peforgrave]