December 1, 2010
Each time I hear it the beat of my heart quickens it's pace. The droning of the familiar noises of the day are suddenly pushed further into the distance. Sometimes they are even silenced momentarily as this four syllable word crosses my mind or escapes my lips.
Perhaps you've heard it as part of this chorus:
His name is called Emmanuel.
God with us, revealed in us.
His name is called Emmanuel.
(lyrics by Bob McGee)
Although most often heard in conjunction with Christmas it's not just a seasonal song or concept. I'm puzzled as to why we speak this word so seldom throughout the year. I've pondered this today, after reading these verses as part of my morning devotional:
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him E(I)mmanuel” (which means “God with us”)." Matthew 1:22-23 NIV
I realize that this Scripture takes place within the confines of the nativity story but the prophetic fulfillment of the birth of Jesus ushered in something that mankind had long been awaiting; the possibility to once again have unhindered fellowship with God.
Emmanuel. God with us.
Perhaps what makes this word both so powerful and yet at times so hard to grasp is its actual meaning. If it meant God near us, or around us, or by us--it would be much easier to comprehend for most of us.
Near, around, or by seems much more plausible to our human minds. It leaves God coming and going as He desires or perhaps us coming and going as we please.
God with us takes the relationship to a different level. To the place where He "never leaves or forsakes us." To a new sense of awareness that He does not pick and choose the situations in which He will be active in our lives. It brings unhindered fellowship 24/7 with Yahweh--our holy God. And it means that He is ever-present.
It means that when He came, He came to stay.
Not God in our neighborhood, or God in our city, or God somewhere within screaming distance--God with us.
Now that's a powerful thought and it's hard to grasp, isn't it. That the King of Kings would vacate his heavenly throne and come to this world to rescue fallen humanity, by sacrificing Himself, totally boggles my mind.
"He so loved us that, for our sake,
He was made man in time,
although through him all times were made.
He was made man, who made man.
He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manager in worldess infancy, he the Word,
without whom all human eloquence is mute."
Augustine, Sermon 188, 2 (Taken from the book Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean)
That kind of love is beyond comprehension. It moves far past the reaches of my mind to the recesses of my spirit. And although, I'll never fully understand it, I fully embrace Him. Who could ever reject that kind of sacrifice or the constant presence of such Love in their lives?
He came to pay a debt that He did not owe. The cost was His life, which He gave freely, so that all those who believe in Him might have eternal life.
God with us--forever.
That's why I love, Emmanuel.
Do you hear the word Emmanuel often?
What does it mean to you?