A message for the week starting on Sunday 18 December 2022
Lectionary Week: Advent 4
Prescribed Texts: Isaiah 7:10-16, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25
Focus Text: Matthew 1: 22
And They Will Call Him Immanuel (God With Us)
I think we have become a little blasé about this text. Most of us have heard about this ‘Immanuel God’ since we were little children. We do not realise how unusual this would have seemed to the Jews of the time. They lived in the time of God’s silence. Bible researchers tell us that between Malachi and Matthew, four hundred years passed in the Holy Land, for which we have no prophetic record.
God was far away. The messages of the prophets had become stale. The waiting had been too long. Maybe many of them no longer believed in the truth of the prophets. And then God speaks again. He not only speaks – He becomes human, one of us, the God with us and He comes to portray love. And everything changes.
More than 2000 years later, God sometimes also seems far away. The message of the prophets has become ‘old news.’ We have also become weary of waiting, and doubt the words of the prophets. But Advent reminds us again that the distant God has come beside us and that we have become His representatives in a world crying out for His voice.
Once again John van de Laar captures this in a prayer:
Love In Action
Your love, O God,
is an active love:
Your love, O God,
is seen in what You do, not just in what You say:
in the blessing of children,
in the meals with outcasts,
in the touching of the untouchable,
in Your presence,
and Your self-giving,
in Your opening of the way to life
to all who will come;
And Your love, O God,
is expressed through people like us:
as we share our wealth in simplicity and generosity;
as we share wholeness in care and healing
of the sick and broken;
as we share hospitality by being truly present
to the lonely, the imprisoned and the marginalised;
as we share peace in kindness, listening and acceptance
with those who challenge us, confront us, and threaten us.
As You have loved us in incarnate action, O God,
may we learn to be little incarnations
through whom Your love is expressed and experienced
To think about: Where can you discover Immanuel again in this Advent season, and where/how can this discovery compel you to be a ‘little incarnation’?
Written by: Ms. Lyn van Rooyen, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator, communication consultant and editor