Grammar matters. It’s the difference between “I like cooking my family and my cat” and “I like cooking, my family and my cat.”
So it’s important for us to note the preposition in the well known advent phrase “God with us”. Coming to us from the prophet Isaiah, the advent people are told that the virgin will conceive, give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. A quick glance at the footnotes clues us in that Immanuel means God with us.
With us. This distinction is worth noting. There is a whole bunch of theology in that single preposition. With denotes union, partnership. It means relationship. It’s personal.
It isn’t around. Or near. Immanuel doesn’t mean “God is in near proximity”. God is adjacent just doesn’t have the same ring.
It also isn’t God is over us. While certainly God ranks higher, what God is telling us through this prophecy is something different is about to happen. God is joining us. Coming down to our level. Taking part in the human experience. Coming to be with us.
Advent reminds us that God isn’t content to let us simply drift through this life hoping to glean something from the scriptures in the desperate hope of “good” afterlife. No, God came to be with us, one of us, in union in this enterprise we call life. And in doing so, showed us a better way to live. A kingdom way. An advent way.
VERSE: John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Prayer: O God that is with us, we thank you that we are not alone. In gratitude, we marvel that Word took and flesh and walked with us, ate with us, laughed and cried with us. Be with us this day and every day thereafter as our guide, our strength and the home to which we return.