Many years ago, when I still had little ones at home, the best time of each day was when evening came. We shared dinner at 5 then we watched ABC News (Peter Jennings was like a family friend) together at 6:30. Those moments were ‘together’ time, talking, laughing, wrestling, snuggling – probably some fighting too, though I have forgotten that. There was something about being there together that defined who we are as a family, that spoke a message to my children – ‘I’m here for you.’ If I sound nostalgic, I am! Now they are scattered around the country, but it is not all that unusual for them to call me when they are having a rough day or to share some success. We have a text group where messages flow back and forth almost every day between siblings and Dad. Why? Because we are family, here for one another.
In this Season, we remember that God came to us long ago, a Baby born to Mary. His desire is that we can be ‘together,’ reconciled to our Father, the family of God. Isaiah, given revelation of the Spirit, saw through time and said “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ” (Isaiah 7:14, KJV) Immanuel is a Hebrew name that means “God with us!”
The God that Moses met on a mountain, Who was wholly ‘other,’ Whose Presence was symbolically separate behind the veil of the Temple’s Holy of Holies, became a Man, entered into His Creation in that mystery of Incarnation, and bridged the gap between Heaven and Earth. Yes, my friend, He is now “God with us!”
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you have done – you can know Him as Immanuel, too. The Gospel writers make it abundantly clear that He is not just God for the ‘together,’ the rich, the beautiful, the brave, or the intelligent. Jesus, son of Mary, is the God of the little, the forgotten, the weak, those bruised and broken by life.
The Father chose a young girl from a hill town to bring His Son into this world.
He was born in the animal shelter ‘out back,’ because the room ‘up front’ was full. Just maybe the kinsfolk of Joseph in Bethlehem had ‘no room’ specifically because they could count to nine, and knew that Mary’s pregnancy was a scandal.
The royal family in Judah determined early on to kill Him, and Jesus’ family became fugitives for a time until Herod’s death.
As He began His adult ministry, Mark tells us that His own family thought He was mentally unstable and tried to bring Him home to avoid embarrassment.
At the end of His short life, He hung naked, pinned to a rough cross, bleeding to death, while passers-by hurled insults at Him. Pilate mocked Him – “The King of the Jews” read the sign ordered nailed above Him as He died, a cruel joke.
Immanuel is not just a Name. It’s a statement. He understands who we are –
our hopes and our aspirations,
our successes and our defeats,
our certainties and our confusion,
… because He’s Immanuel – “God with us!”
The limits of human connection become all too obvious to me.
My heart aches for the man who battles addiction and while I may be there for him, I cannot save him.
I am touched by a woman who is drained by life, who gives without receiving, and I may be there for her, but I cannot impart renewal in life.
I am concerned for a world that is divided by ideology and am a ready listener to those troubled with me, but I am not a savior.
Immanuel knows none of our limits! He offers more than empathy. He is the Savior, the Lord of Glory, the giver of Life and grace. Immanuel is the One who brings us the hope of the Great Reversal – the last, first – the humble lifted up – the sinner made a saint – the hopeless filled with heaven’s promise.
Today, join me in meditating on the Name – Immanuel. Thank God that He is here now, that He has brought those once far away near.
The word from the Word is the song of Mary. Read it thoughtfully as you take note of the triumph in the words, spoken prophetically, and with great hope.
“Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him. His mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. And how he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful. For he promised our ancestors-Abraham and his children- to be merciful to them forever.” (Luke 1:46-55, NLT)
Today, find a moment to step out of the traffic, to retreat to the quiet, but don’t focus on your pain. Instead, wait for Immanuel to come. Invite Him to soothe your soul with His Presence. I pray that you can hear Him say – “I’m here for you.”
(Video of this blog at this link)
I will bow before
My Lord and King
You have come to us
You make all things new
You’ll never let me go
My Shepherd King
You’re watching over me
You have named the stars
Of the deepest night
Still You love me
You have called my name
I will follow You
Holy holy God Almighty
There is none like You
Holy holy God Almighty
There is none like You
Emmanuel Emmanuel (5X)
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