In the busyness of life it is all too easy to overlook the fact that we are living in the days of Emmanuel- God With Us. Because we are a people living on this side of the cross, on the fulfilled side of God’s new covenant, we are living in the portion of God’s timeline in which Christ has come to earth for the first time and we live waiting for the second. There is a sense of fulfillment but there is also longing. Fulfillment is satisfying, relieving…but longing can be frustrating; an unrequited desire. In the waiting process it is easy to lose hope, grow weary, or (what sometimes feels even more dangerous) become distracted in our waiting. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt that it would be easier to keep my eyes “fixed on Jesus” as I’m told to do in the scriptures if He were still walking the earth as flesh and blood. Yet He said that it was better that He go away…not necessary. Better, for He would send one just like Him. It was the promise still of God With Us. Just as baby Jesus was Emmanuel in the flesh, so the Holy Spirit today continues to fulfill the promise of Emmanuel.
God With Us is beautiful and true but, in reality, it is hard to remember and even harder to practice. I have so enjoyed the celebration of Advent this year within our own family circle and also among a fellowship of friends. The candles and the hymns and the reading of prophecies both fulfilled and yet to come have filled my heart with a much needed peace and an opportunity to be still but as soon as the candles are blown out, my peace seems to dissipate with the smoky remains and I jump into the next busy task. These liturgies are wonderful reminders of God’s presence but it is only in the empty spaces and the quietest of times that our souls truly can remember and practice God’s presence and remember that He is Here. So we must make space and create empty times for God to fill or, very shortly, we will find ourselves living empty lives.
This makes me think of a story I’ve always liked about Abraham Lincoln. During the divisive time of our nation’s civil war, Lincoln was asked whether he thought God was on the side of the confederate or the union army. He is said to have replied, ”I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
If we believe in Emmanuel, there is no question as to whether or not God is with us but whether or not we are with Him, looking to Him, leaning on Him.
I’m often with my husband, with my phone, with my children, with my friends…but how often am I truly with God? Being with Him and acknowledging that He is with me- this is Emmanuel.
So when we feel overwhelmed by the busyness of our days…God Is With Us.
When our gifts and calling feel dry and dormant…God Is With Us.
When our teenagers roll their eyes…God Is With Us.
When technology threatens to take over our homes…God Is With Us.
When the stack of books on our nightstand keeps growing but we are getting in bed too late to read anything…God Is With Us.
In our hopes and in our waiting…God Is With Us.
This is our Christmas gift to you- the reminder that Emmanuel is still here. Until the time when Jesus appears once again in the flesh, we choose to practice His presence and daily remember that God Is With Us. Merry Christmas to one and all from our home to yours.
Love, The Deagle Family