Emmanuel, “God with us.” עִמָּנוּאֵל
Matthew 1: 18-25
We serve a God who seeks us out. A God you desires a loving relationship with us. The news, delivered to Joseph in the Gospel reading for the 4th Sunday in Advent (Matt. 1:18-25), that God wants to walk this earth with us is nothing new. God walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, Genesis 3. God visited Abraham in Genesis 18. God appeared to Moses, Jacob, Elijah, Isaiah, and many other prophets.
Even beyond special appearances, God wants to walk with us. In fact, God does walk with us, everyday and everywhere we go. This is the meaning of what John Wesley calls “Prevenient Grace.” God is always there, waiting for us to turn to Him, to embrace Him, to make Him a part of our everyday life.
I like to think of Prevenient Grace like this:
Let’s say I’m driving down the road with my radio turned off. I want to hear the traffic report or the news, or maybe music, so I reach down and turn my radio to “ON”. Immediately voices or music begins to come through the radio and I can here whatever it is being broadcast. Now, when I turned my radio “ON”, there wasn’t a person at the radio station that was alerted I wanted service and then beamed radio waves directly to me. The whole time I was driving, even with the radio off, I was surrounded by radio waves. Music, news, sports talk and even Rush Limbaugh were bouncing off my radio receiver, surrounding my car and even bouncing off me. Maybe even penetrating and passing through me. (What a horrible thought that even though I don’t listen to him, Rush Limbaugh is bouncing off my body daily.)
God is like the radio waves, always there whether we are tuned into Him or not. Emmanuel, God with us, God around us, God within us. Christ’s birth would be a physical manifestation of a reality about God that existed from the very moment He created humankind.
Joseph’s dream and the announcement of the Angel of the Lord was conformation the God loves us. God loves us enough to become Emmanuel. God loves us enough to live a human life. God loves us enough to become a vulnerable and helpless child. Born to an obscure teenage girl from a poor village on the fringe of the Hebrew world.
Emmanuel !!!! Emmanuel !!!!! I just can’t seem to say it enough. Emmanuel!!!!
I think I see a tattoo in my future, עִמָּנוּאֵל