The term Immanuel
From the time I was a little girl I remember singing in church the Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Immanuel and ransome captive Israel. . .” That word Immanuel, we were told, means ‘God with us.’ In later years as I took courses and expanded my learning, one speaker said the word actual means, “God has pitched his tent with his.” For me that was BANG! So many things made more sense. To truly understand the incarnation, God becoming flesh and living among us as a human being, we have to get that sense of living as we live — laughing, crying, learning — all of it. And probably the ultimate part of our human journey — that of dying and death.
“God has pitched his tent with us.” He has poured the foundation for his house. He has come to borrow a cup of sugar from us. He is the new neighbor down the street.
That sense of the incarnation pushes the ‘ethereal, nostalgic, romantic’ notions of Christmas into a proper alignment with who God really is for us.
The human desire is to put God in a box and take him out only at Christmas to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over. God becomes more difficult when he wants to move in and begins to re-arrange the furniture. Because God has a plan for the world and for us and God will not be content until the plan is accomplished.
The plan is a complete re-ordering of human priorities. All the billionaires and all the power mongers in the world cannot change ‘the glory God has planned for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.’ It means the first will be last and the last first; it means selling all you have and giving to the poor; it means taking up your cross and following him; it means building your house on rock; it means giving your second coat to one who has nothing; it means giving a cup of water to the thirsty. And Jesus comes to take us through all the nastiest streets in our communities and the saddest homes.
When God comes to pitch his tent among us, the world is changed forever.
Avis Anderson lives in Glendive. Her online blog can be found at www.prairienewdays.com.