12/9/18 – God With Us

Posted on : Dec 6th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

One of our favorite Advent songs is “My Soul Doth Magnify My God.” In that song we sing the refrain: “

Emmanuel, Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, God is with us.

Emmanuel, Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, God is with us.

In O Little Town of Bethlehem, we sing, “O Come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.” 

What does Emmanuel (or Immanuel) mean?  BTW, the only difference between “Emmanuel” and “Immanuel” is the transliteration from Hebrew.  In Hebrew, Immanuel/Emmanuel is a name, and in the ancient world, names had meaning.  From the Hebrew, Immanuel literally means:  “God with us.” Here it is broken down:

The Hebrew name עִמָּנוּאֵל (‘Immanu’el) meaning “God is with us”, comes from the roots עִם (‘im) meaning “with” and אֵל (‘el) meaning “God”.

What in the world does it mean to say, “God is with us?”

Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.  What it doesn’t mean is what we usually want God to be.  It doesn’t mean God is all powerful (Omnipotent) and the one who hands out favors to her/his favorites.  It doesn’t mean that God is there to bail us out when things go bad.  It doesn’t mean that we can beg God for this or that and eventually get God to give us what we want.  No, it means something very different.

It simply means God is with us on our journey through life.  God is next to us.  God is with us.  God is there with us.  God is traveling with us.  Such an image of God simply means God is always with us.  Always present.  Always “there.” 

But how often do we really sense that God is with us?  With us when we are in a crisis or struggling?  With us when we are celebrating the most joyous moments of our lives.  With us in the everydayness of life, opening us to the magnificent splendor and joy that is life itself? 

From the beginning of our sacred story in the Exodus, God says “I will be with you” on this journey into new life.  (Ex. 3:12).  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sends his disciples out into the world after the resurrection, telling them, “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20).  

In the next to the last chapter in the Bible these same words are used:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. And I heard a loud voice saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and God will dwell with them… God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  (Rev. 21: 1-4)

This Sunday we’ll explore more deeply what it means for us to believe that, “God is With Us” – right there with us.  Right next to us, beside us and with us no matter where we are or what we’re up to.

Advent Blessings to each of you,

Dan

Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what God had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emman′u-el”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

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