Emmanuel: God with Us
By John VanDerWalker of Hayden, ID, USA
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” —Matthew 1:23 NRSV
Amid the turmoil, God enters stage left.
There was much turmoil in 2015. The church was struggling financially. Valued and talented ministers were retiring early. Some were resigning, and others were being laid off. My dad and I decided it would be a good time to go fishing, and it was in a river that I encountered, yet again, grace.
I had crossed the river and not yet started casting when I looked to the left, up the river. About 90 feet away were a mother moose and her young calf. Those unfamiliar with these ungulates may not appreciate my predicament. People are hurt and killed by mother moose. I stood still and watched as the mother quietly led her calf across the river, acting as if by moving slowly and quietly I would not see them.
It was an awesome experience of closeness to creation. In those moments, I was open to God’s grace in the beauty of the spring flora, the life of the moose and her calf, and the sound of spring birdsong that filled the air. I encountered grace. It was not a matter of entitlement that I had this experience; it was grace. At that moment God’s generosity became real, and I came a little closer to understanding the generosity of God expressed to Mary and the world in the form of a baby, Jesus.
Advent Prayer Phrase
Anticipation deepens within.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?