We have waited with hope and expectation through Advent! We celebrate the coming of the child, the Messiah; we know that Christ lives in us and God’s image is reflected in us; and we remember that Christ is coming again in glory. All of that gives us hope! And we celebrate Light in the darkness! Though the world by many measures seems dark and foreboding, we are reminded that God is with us (Emmanuel: “God with us”).
Throughout Advent, Isaiah’s prophesies show a beautiful vision of the world as God desires it to be! Weapons are turned into farm tools! Ferocious beasts live alongside helpless creatures, and there is no danger or fear! All creation rejoices – even the deserts rejoice and bloom! Illness, disease and disability are gone! No one is hungry, all have a home, and there is no need! In that vision, all of creation, including all of us are in right relationship with God (righteousness), and in right relationship with each other (justice). In that vision, even nations are in right relationship, and learn not to go to war anymore.
What a beautiful vision and view for the world! It harkens back to how God created the world to be, and points forward to how God is already transforming it to be again! In that process, we know that God is with us, that Immanuel or “God with us” will bridge the relationship divides, and that Immanuel will work through us as instruments of peace and justice in God’s world!
As we look at how poorly we have treated God’s world, God’s creatures, and God’s people, we realize we aren’t there yet. It is easy to get bogged down in seeing only that which is wrong, and in feeling defeated by the forces of darkness. We are grieved, and maybe even bitter about things that seem to move in the wrong direction. We cry out to God, and perhaps ask where God is in the midst of sin and suffering that seem to be present in abundance! But, even in deep pain God is with is, and in us, and working through us!
Messiah, Prince of Peace, Immanuel – Teach us God’s ways that we may walk in God’s paths of right relationship! Teach us also to sing with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… for the Mighty One has done great things for [us]…!”
Oh come, oh come, Immanuel! We praise you for you are with us!