An Advent Reflection for December 20 by Madeline Longacker
Immanuel – God is With Us
Jesus’ title Immanuel means God with us. God was with Mary in a special way. In spite of uncertainty in this change in her life she said yes. In her visit with Elizabeth, Mary rejoices in Jesus’ presence in her and in God’s plan unfolding in her. As a result, she became an instrument of fulfilling God’s promise to men and women to be with them as savior and deliverer. Jesus lived out this title of Immanuel –God was with him. He did not stay in the synagogue, but he searched out those who were pushed out to the edges of society. He revealed God’s love, help, and presence to them. Jesus embraced the joys and sorrows of His own life holding onto to the knowledge that God was with Him and He was with God. Jesus promised that God would be in His disciples today and that we would be in God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I started thinking about how I had experienced God with me in my life. I remember being in a small church up north and feeling a deep peace and a feeling that many people had come here over generations to bring their lives to God and God was with them. I felt that God was with me in that moment of peace. Even longer before that, I remember rocking my two month old baby at two in the morning. She was hurting with an earache and I was feeling very tired and worried. Then the thought went through my mind that she wouldn’t be this small for long and I just needed to hold her. That thought helped me to be at peace and she quieted and fell asleep. I bet God was with us that evening
These last four years I’ve been dealing with the death of my mother and brother. For a while I got stuck in the ‘Why?’ and the” Where are you God?” I have found in looking back that I now can see the presence of God in my family and friends who gave love, compassion and companionship as I moved through that time. God was with me through them. Recently I was sitting at a prayer meeting and the thought came to me that we should give Jesus all the hurts and broken pieces of our lives and those around us. Jesus, Immanuel, would bring healing and wholeness. He can fix lives in ways that we cannot. When we seek God each day and ask Him to show us who we can reach out to, we become a part of God’s plan to love the world into wholeness. The prayers, the giving, the visits, the encouragement will change the face of the earth. It is in those acts of kindness that we see the face of God who is always us with us. When we say yes to God’s presence in us, our lives can be filled with joy and thanksgiving the way Mary’s life was.