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Emmanuel: God is With Us!

By Jennifer Hartline
December 7th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The headlines are shouting doom and despair at me, but today I am not listening.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Advent got off to a great start for me, but it quickly deteriorated into a crazy busy, trying week that was full of bad moods and frustration. I felt my Christmas spirit go right out the window and get soggy in the pouring rain we had. Not good. Purposeful realignment is required here. I need a lot more Advent and a lot lessÖ everything else.

The headlines are shouting doom and despair at me, but today I am not listening.Our culture is yelling obscenities at me, but today I am not listening.Problems and annoyances are mocking and taunting me, but today I am not giving in.

Not today. Not now. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day either. For now I am enthralled by one simple, beautiful word, and you should be, too. We should all be absorbed in awe over one amazing, mind-blowing word.

Emmanuel

God is with us. GOD is WITH us. GOD is with US. Emmanuel. Close your eyes, quiet your heart and hear the word pass through your lips and realize what it means.

This is the thing that makes Christianity unique. Itís what makes it the real deal. This is what renders every other belief in every other god meaningless and a sham. This is what makes every other religion a waste of time. Our God came. But He didnít just come and hang out with us for awhile, getting to know us while keeping His holy distance.

He shed His robe of glory and took on mortal, human flesh. He became one of us, clothed in our skin and bones and blood and sweat and tears. He blessed and recreated our humanity by inhabiting it Himself and closed the gap between mortal and immortal. And by taking that mortal flesh to the cross to shed His precious and perfect blood, He bridged the impassable chasm between us and our Creator.

No other god has done this. Only our God has done the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the impossible, the radical, and the incredible. He came, and He remains. He is with us still.

Does a God of anger or arrogance humble Himself and take on the very form of His created ones in order to save them from their own sin? Does a God of contention lay His authority down and subject Himself to the law of the world He created? Does a vengeful God surrender Himself to an unjust death for the sake of those murdering Him?

And still, the world doesnít get it! Still, the reality of Godís amazing love is not understood. Still, He is with us, unnoticed. Still, we forget the magnitude of what He has done. We need Advent so much more than we realize! EmmanuelÖ God is with us!

Rejoice! There is no distance between us and our God. We do not stand outside His door weeping, begging for a glance from His furrowed brow, or a crumb from His table. He crashed through the wall between us and carried us inside His house to enjoy everything He has, including the food of Life.

Our God alone is worthy of praise and honor and awe and obedience because He has left no measure of separation between us and Himself. His love for us compelled our King to become our lowly servant. Love compelled our perfect God to take upon Himself every wretched, repulsive, disgusting sin in order to free us, cleanse us and make us new. Love compelled the Lord who owes us nothing to pay everything to redeem our debt.

No other god can compare. Only Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. Nothing in this world is more deserving of our attention, especially this season. Whatever else may be going on, our gaze should be fixed on Emmanuel. We should be looking expectantly at that manger with grateful hearts. We not only can rejoice, we must rejoice. Heaven forbid we let these weeks pass without taking notice of Godís unspeakable gift.

Of course, life will go on, and our obligations must be met. Work must be done and should be done. Important current issues must be dealt with and not ignored. But heaven forbid we blow past Advent in our haste and worry and stress, and fail to open our minds each day to the miracle of Emmanuel. It is an astounding word; it is an astounding reality. If we do not tell the world, how will they ever know? If our joyful expectancy is not contagious, what a tragedy!

Emmanuel ~ God is with us! Rejoice!

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Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

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