Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.
Isaiah 7:10-16 (NRSV)
I’m going to keep this reflection short and sweet since tomorrow is Christmas. Tonight many of you will go to a church service or mass, you may light candles in prayer, you may sing songs, hymns or chant psalms. Christians all over the globe will be gathering and remembering the arrival of God in the form of a baby and expecting his return as the resurrected Christ. Tonight we will join together in expecting the arrival of Immanuel. Immanuel in Hebrew means “God with Us”. This is a strange and bizarre mystery of Christianity. How is it that the transcendent God of the universe, who is untouchable and unseeable enters into a dark and dirty world? How is it that the God who was so saddened by the world he created in the time of Noah now chooses to enter into the corruption rather than wipe it out? What does it mean for God to be a “God with Us?” What does it mean for God to be Immanuel? Here are a few ideas that come to my mind.
God is with us when we gather together.
God is with us when we are far apart.
God is with us when we are in the light.
God is with us when we are in the dark.
God is with us in the maternity ward.
God is with us in the ICU.
God is with us when we are joyful.
God is with us when we are mournful.
God is with us as a tiny baby.
God is with us as a roaring lion.
God is with us when we find ourselves at church.
God is with us when we find ourselves in the gutter.
God is with us in life.
God is with us in death.
God is with us at the marriage altar.
God is with us at the divorce court.
When God declares that he is Immanuel, that he has come to be God with us, then he is with us. He has come to us to be with us. I pray that this becomes a deeper reality for you this Christmas.
What ways is “God with us” for you? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.