O come to us, abide with us, O Lord Immanuel…
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1.14.
In wrestling with one of the great mysteries of faith, inherent in this verse, how Jesus could be both fully human and fully divine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests we ask the question “Who?” not “How?” So when we sing “O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel” who are we asking to come and, as The Message says, move into our neighbourhood?
Our answer to that is a compassionate, caring Jesus who is full of grace, mercy and truth. Immanuel means God with us and that is such a reassuring concept. In these days of Advent and Christmas there can be a lot of contexts when we particularly need God with us. As a childless couple, Christmas with the celebration of the birth of Jesus and a focus on children can highlight what we don’t have. It may only be a fleeting thought but the comfort that God is with us is an encouragement and a hope. Sometimes we have to resist the temptation to try and be brave and deal with issues on our own when the Word who became flesh wants to be with us, dwell with us, share our sorrows as well as our joys, hopes and fears.
Bonhoeffer also talked about Christ, the one for others. Who might be saying “come to us, abide with us” as we seek to share the mission of Jesus?
Immanuel, God with us, help us to be aware of your presence in our lives and in our communities today. Thank you for your grace filled love. Amen.
Each advent I use the St John’s College, Nottingham Advent booklet to help me keep a focus on the true meaning of advent and Christmas. Most years we write one of the readings. This is the contribution for 29th December but I wanted to post it today to encourage you to consider some focused advent reading. It’s not too late to start with this book – you can buy it here or from Amazon for your Kindle.