Emmanuel – God with us
by Kathye Hamm
Advent is my favorite season of the church year. The incredible mix of texts from the Revised Common Lectionary and scriptural images that are offered, the blue paraments, the general excited anticipation of Christmas – all are part of it for me. The main reason why Advent is my favorite season is because my favorite image of / name for Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us. The true witness of the incarnation of God in Jesus truly comes into being on Christmas, but in Advent we hear about what this will mean – for Mary and Joseph and their families, for the 1st century Jews in occupied Israel, for the end of times, and for us – who live as disciples of Jesus in this time and place.
Jesus taught his followers that God’s love is for all people. Jesus loved all people and all of creation and called his disciples to live out of that abundant love. Jesus knew the sting of being an outcast and the searing pain of betrayal and the humiliation of a public execution. In his life and ministry Jesus taught that when we are with the most vulnerable, he meets us there. When we are being served by others, he meets us there. There is no one who is outside of God’s love and mercy and forgiveness – this is what Emmanuel brought to earth.
This time of year is hard for many people. Maybe you are missing a loved one, or are estranged from those you love. Maybe you are sick, or caring for someone who is ill. Maybe you are alone and lonely or sad and struggling. Maybe the to-do list is too long and the time between now and Christmas is too short, or maybe you are not sure how you are going to pay the rent and the bills and also buy a gift or two.
Jesus calls us to be in those spaces of pain and longing: to sit with the lonely and sick and sad; to help share our resources out of the abundance that many of us are blessed with; to come together as community and bring our struggles and worries and be reminded of God’s love and mercy for all; to tell the story of what Jesus has done for us and to invite others to hear that story and be part of our faith communities in worship and service and fellowship.
Whether this season is one of joy and happiness or sorrow and struggle (or some combination of all of that), may you know the love of God in Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us.
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