I’ve been thinking a lot about Emmanuel. This concept of God With Us. Of love come down. Of no longer reaching up and trying to get to God, but of him coming down to get to us.
What a novel concept. What a beautiful truth. We don’t have to struggle to find God—he has found us. He has loved us first so that we might love.
I used to really not like the song O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I think it was mostly an instinctive distaste for all things in minor keys. (I also don’t care for Carol of the Bells or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen…probably for this reason). But last year, probably for the first time in my life, I was in a place where Advent made more sense than Christmas. The waiting, the longing, the fighting for hope in a world that made no sense. The anticipation of the coming of Christmas mirrored by the anticipation of going home for the holidays.
Two Sundays ago in church, we talked about the wait for hope. The premise was that the Christmas season isn’t always hope-filled or joy-filled for those around us. That sometimes it is full of an aching, unmet desire.
This made so much sense to me. In the past year, I’ve been through a lot. A lot of things tried to steal my hope, my joy, my peace. And more often than not, they succeeded. Seasons of disappointment, of crushing anxiety, of heavy depression.
Last year at Advent, I was a hot mess. I felt so far from God, and all I saw were walls. All I could see were the ways he didn’t show up and didn’t provide. I was mad and disappointed, and even though I knew he had come and was coming, I could not see. But somehow light got through the cracks. It always does.
Sometime during the madness that was 2014, light crept in and fire was kindled. My verse for this year was from John 1:5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The darkness has not overcome. Light has never been swallowed by darkness.
Right now, I’m sitting in my living room in Memphis. I’m bundled up in snuggly Christmas pajamas and drinking hot tea. The Christmas tree is glowing and the candles are flickering. I’m listening to Baby Son by John Mark McMillan. I’m sitting here with Jesus, celebrating in his Emmanuel-ness. He is here. He is love. He is faithful.
Seasons of silence are never without promise and are never without hope. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. We are not overcome. We live in light. We live in hope. We live in Christ and He in us, the hope of glory.
Emmanuel: God with us.