22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.[a]
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)
Seems everyone’s looking for the perfect gift. It’s become an annual quest, to find that one item that will satisfy that special someone’s need, and leave their life changed by receiving and experiencing such a special gift. When we think about celebrating Christmas it’s all about gift giving. It’s not just about what we give to others, if we’re honest, it’s also about how giving to others can make us feel joyful.
What was the best gift you ever received? When you think of it, it puts you right back in that moment where you can experience the feelings it evoked. Was it a special item or was it someone’s selfless actions, an unexpected visit, or news of a baby on the way? When Mary and Joseph heard there was a baby on the way, it probably didn’t seem like a gift to them at that moment. But the angel said this child would be called “Emmanuel, God with us.”
To have “God with us” means God is always present with us so that we are never alone. It means that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, comfort us and work with and through us. “God with us” means we encounter God in a relationship where we meet God at our deepest level, where we are forgiven, made whole and loved. “God with us” means we grow in grace and love for others. And just as God gave us the gift of God’s only son, so we are also God’s gifts to each other. We are endowed with spiritual gifts that enable us to care for and serve each other, together, in community, so we can share the good news of “God with us” to the world.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
So that tiny child in the manger was the perfect gift to us. “God is with us” is not only where we begin our faith journey, but it is where we end our earthly journey. When John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, lay dying he raised his arms into the air, and cried out two times, “The best of all is, God is with us.”
That’s our daily challenge, to fully live into the reality that “God is with us.” We experience this when we use our gifts to
serve others, our compassion to care for those who are lonely and hurting, our resources to feed, clothe and house those in need. This Advent look for opportunities to be a gift to others, using your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, you are always with us. Renew us by your love so that we can use our gifts to be a gift to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.