Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent XXV

One of the songs of the Advent season is "Emmanuel, Emmanuel." It is an easy to sing chorus with a powerful message. For years I have made a practice of including this song in the order of worship to be used each of the four Sundays in Advent. If someone does not know it, my hope is that it might get rooted in their heart before the season ends. The words of the song are: "Emmanuel, Emmanuel, his name is called Emmanuel. God with us, revealed in us, his name is called Emmanuel."
The "God with us" name first appears in Isaiah 7:14. The gospel writer, Matthew, goes back to that verse and offers the interpretation for his rendering of the Christmas story. There are many names which can be given to the One born long ago in Bethlehem. In Isaiah 9 he is referred to as "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." In other places we hear titles such as "The Good Shepherd, Light of the World, Lord, and Savior. " Still, the name Emmanuel carries with it an important, powerful, and much needed word for our day. "God with us." Jesus is the One whose birth and life announces, "God with us."
Certainly, this is a good word for our day. Despite all the talk of social networking, so many experience such loneliness. It has often been said that the loneliest place in the world is a crowd and many are discovering that their retreat to the Internet puts them in a similar place. The good news is that we are never alone. Even those who refuse to acknowledge the divine presence in the world live in the world He has created and in that world not a single one of us lives outside the love and grace of the God who sent His son to Bethlehem to let us know "God with us." Always.

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