an Advent wreath/candle devotion

Emmanuel

Emmanuel, God-With-Us

Emmanuel, God-With-Us: leaving heaven’s peaceful comfort  

God-With-Us in the smell, sound, chaos and shelter of the stable

God-With-Us, almost helpless; Mary whispers a lullaby blessings for her nursing child

God-With-Us as a midwife cleans and fashions a makeshift cradle

God-With-Us as shepherds offer midnight harmonies to the Christmas child

God-With-Us as Magi prepare to follow the Nativity Star

God-With-Us as Joseph dreams an escape to Egypt

God-With-Us enduring whispers of questioned ancestry

God-With-Us preaching love, teaching justice, offering hope, calling disciples

God-With-Us touching lepers, welcoming sinners, opening hearts, changing us

God-With-Us healing the sick, pronouncing forgiveness, feeding multitudes, opening blind eyes  

God-With-Us scorned and suspended between earth and heaven

God-With-Us bearing the sting of every sin and sinner

God-With-Us entombed in the very earth that Emmanuel once spoke into existence  

God-With-Us breaking the bonds of death, shattering sin’s domain, restoring life, giving hope 

God-With-Us standing in Calvary’s garden, speaking our names, going before us to restore us

God-With-Us cooking breakfast, breaking bread, naming doubt, opening eyes, conquering fear

 God-With-Us forgiving our sins, lighting our path, lifting our spirit, empowering our souls

Emmanuel: God-With-Us; coming in glory, obliterating sin, establishing love

 As we light this first advent candle, let us ponder the name God took: Emmanuel: God-With-Us.  We rejoice for God is with us shining forgiveness, hope, peace and power. Amen

Read Matthew 1:18-24… Consider the name given Jesus: Emmanuel or God-With-Us

What images, titles, or ideas come to your mind when you think about God?  Some images or tithes given to God are: Creator, The Almighty, All Powerful, Omniscient, Sustainer, Father, Lord, The Judge of All, Master, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Giver of Life, Love, Sovereign, and Holy One.  How would you describe God?  How might you draw a picture of God?

What does it mean to be “with” someone?  Can you remember a time when someone was truly “with” you?     How does it feel to have people with us?

Look over the candle lighting reading again.  Think of events in Jesus’ life that are meaningful to you.  What does it mean that God choose to dwell/be with us as in the Christmas-child?

How does Joseph and Mary’s experience speak to the human experience that Christ came to share, save and heal?

If we think about the theology of “Emmanuel: GOD-WITH-US” how might that change our daily living and interaction with others?

Other Scriptures for Dec 2-8

You may want to light the first candle and read the Emmanuel Prayer as you consider other Scriptures during the week.

 Philippians 2:1-11.  Verses 6-11 are believed to be an early hymn of the church. The song celebrates a V pattern, of Christ leaving the comfort of heaven to enter our world of backstabbing and stubbed toes.  The midpoint of the V pattern is Christ’s life on earth. Christ then returns to Heaven’s glory.  How do these verse frame Christmas for us?  How are we called to be like Emmanuel?

John 3:14-21.  What is Emmanuel’s work or mission in this world?  What drives God to send Emmanuel to live among us?  How can we be “Emmanuel-like” today?

John 13:3-15.  Read the passage substituting the title “God-With-Us” for the name Jesus and his pronouns.   Why does The Teacher-The Lord wash our feet?  What can we learn from Emmanuel?  How might our following of Emmanuel’s actions change our experience of Christmas?

John 11:1-44 (17-35 &43-44) Here, we see Jesus both weeping and working as The Force giving Life and bringing about Resurrection.  How is the idea of Emmanuel shown in this story?  Which is more powerful Emmanuel raising the dead or God-With-Us weeping for a hurting crowd?

Colossians 1:13-23 The Apostle Paul ascribes to Emmanuel may titles, some you may have never thought about.   What titles could you personally give to Emmanuel?   Paul speaks of the great act of redemption done through the cross. God’s self giving and deep identification with sinners culminates in the cross.   What does it mean that an Almighty God came to us vulnerable in a manger, nourished by Mary and Joseph, hung between thieves, and triumphant at Easter?

Titus 3:4-7 The writer speaks of our sharing in the work of Jesus Christ.  “Emmanuel” gives us salvation, grace and hope.  Titus reminds us that God-With-Us is not confined to the times Jesus physically lived on the earth.  God is With Us now.    Ask God to richly pour the Spirit into your life today.

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