Keeping Advent, day eighteen

This is the weekend when we hear, both from Isaiah and from Matthew, the news of our savior, who is "Immanuel - God with us." I found a beautiful reflection on what it means for God to be with us on the Center for Excellence in Preaching website:
“Immanuel, which means, ‘God with us.”

Yes, that’s it.

God with us.

God with us in all our flesh-and-blood realities and messiness. “Christ among the pots and pans” as Teresa of Avila put it. Christ among the barn animals and then those quirky magi astrologers and then all the rest of the Gospel’s curious cast of characters.

God with us.

God with the prostitutes and the lepers and the outcast in whose company Jesus would delight again and again. God at the dinner table with a chive stuck between his incisors. God lifting the cup of wine to his lips.

God with us.

God with the little children whose warm brows he touched and blessed. God smiling when a baby was shown to him by a proud new mother.

God with us in all our ordinary times and days. God with us, as Jesus would say to bookend Matthew’s gospel, even unto the end of the ages. Always. With us. Immanuel.

Immanuel is God-with-us in the cancer clinic and at the local nursing home where bodies slump pitifully in wheelchairs pushed up against the hallway walls.

Immanuel is God-with-us when the pink slip comes and when the beloved child sneers, "I hate you!"

Immanuel is God-with-us when you pack the Christmas decorations away and, with an aching heart, you realize afresh that your one son never did call over the holidays. Not once.

Immanuel is God-with-us when your dear wife or mother stares at you with an Alzheimer's glaze and absently asks, "What was your name again, dear?"

Ever and always Jesus stares straight into you with his two good eyes and he does so not only when you can smile back but most certainly also when your own eyes are full of tears. In fact, Jesus is Immanuel, "God with you" even in those times when you are so angry with God that you refuse to meet his eyes. But even when you feel like you can't look at him, he never looks away from you. He can't. His name says it all.

Imagine. Imagine all the people, living with their God, who has come here—here—so that one day in his kingdom, we will all live as one. It’s the right dream. And its fulfillment begins in this very world, the place Immanuel calls home.

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