“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel which means ‘God with us.’ “–Matthew 1: 23
“God with us”
I find myself clinging to these words during this Advent season. There are so many who have been pulled in by the darkness and cannot find their light. There are so many who don’t have any hope left. They have been robbed of their joy and are instead clinging to the words of Mr. Scrooge in a Christmas Carol “bah hambug.” My heart aches for each and every one of these individuals. However I don’t blame them at all for being down. Sometimes life and all that is happening is just is too much!
Last week at a conference gathering, we had a Christmas carol hymn sing. One of the hymns we sang was “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Those words have been replaying in my head and my heart….especially this day as I want my friends to know that God is indeed with them. God is indeed in the midst of their real. (Credit to my friend Anna for using that phrase in her Advent devotional).
“O come, O 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.”
In the midst of this broken world, I find myself having a hard time sometimes trusting in Emmanuel too. I wonder when peace and justice will be brought about. I wonder if war will come to an end. And then I am reminded that war will end and peace and justice will indeed reign when God comes again to “judge the living and the dead.”
“O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer; O sun of justice, now draw near. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadow put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.”
This Advent I have been reading through my friend Anna’s e-book Moments of Christmas. The book is meant for Mom’s but it really is geared towards all women. In the post a few days ago, Anna talked about how we can choose to chase perfection or we can choose to chase holy. I think especially during this time of the year it is so easy to get caught up in who has the most presents, the prettiest decorations etc but the reality is that God wants us to chase holy; to spend time with him. I know that is not always easy especially when the darkness seems to be overshadowing the light. But, my dear readers and friends, it seems to me that perhaps that is when God is most with us.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” I know that there have been several Christmas’s when I have been grieving; grieving because a family member was in the hospital in the days leading up to Christmas. I know that I have yearned for God to bring that special man into my life. But the reality is that God has been in the midst of the muck and the mud with me. God sent God’s son into the world to walk with us and then to ultimately die on a cross for each and every one of us.
“O come, O King of Nations, come, O Cornerstone that binds in one: refresh the hearts that long for you; restore the broken, make us new.”
God in this broken messed up yet beautiful world, this Advent continue to refresh the hearts of all those who are hurting. Continue to pick them up and walk with them. Restore them from brokenness to wholeness. Grant them peace and joy and hope in the midst of their joy-less days and nights. Give them the words to declare that you are indeed Emmanuel “God with us.
The truth is that God has not left. God is indeed still with us. Even when the darkness seems to be the only thing there, God is still with us. Even when their seems to be no hope left, God is still with us. Even when all we want to do is surrender, God reminds us that God is still with us.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.”