Wonder Boi Writes

25 Songs of Christmas – Oh Come Emmanuel

Well it’s song blog time again. I have to admit, I find the prospect a little daunting. It’s a lot of work, it takes a ton of time, and it forces me to reflect, sometimes on things I’d rather not think too hard about.  The thinking part is of course the reason I keep doing it though. That,​ and you all keep asking me to. I’ve actually been thinking of this particular blog for a couple of weeks. Last year at this time I was in a dark space, and I used my blogs to work through those emotions. But this year I’d hoped for something a little happier, more traditional, a little pep and holly.

Sadly,​ when I reread my blog from a year ago today,​ I found not much had changed. All the problems weighing on my mind then are still heavy in my heart now, not to mention the added concerns of death and disease close to home, a global refugee crisis, violent xenophobia, and terrorism both foreign and domestic.

Merry freaking Christmas.

I have read the entire New Testament this year. I took part in our c​hurch book club. I prayed and donated food and clothes and money to charity.  And while all those things did lighten the load,​ I still don’t have any hard solutions. I don’t have definitive answers for why we keep killing ourselves and each other. I don’t have any cute sayings about God​-​shaped holes, or everything happening for a reason. I don’t want to bide my time in hopes of a distant heaven. I want help and peace and change right here,​ right now. I am scared and I am tired and I am impatient. I want all-powerful God to swoop in and fix the whole world.

But what if God doesn’t work that way? What if Jesus didn’t come down to offer answers? What if He wasn’t born to give simple solutions? What if we have free will, and we will always have free will, and we will always use that free will to hurt and harm and destroy until we fix ourselves? What if God simply won’t force us to follow Jesus’s teachings and there’s no religious text or act in the world that can make us choose life?

What’s the point then? Why have a Christmas at all? Why even come down off that heavenly throne? Why take on the ​frailty of the human body and the vulnerability of infancy? Why  be born into abject poverty? Why live homeless under foreign occupation? Why be run out of one’s own country by both a violent army and social condemnation from one’s own religious community? Why suffer pain and loneliness, a corrupt justice system, betrayal by those you love followed by government-​sanctioned murder?

I understand why people doubt this story. It’s pretty hard to believe the God of whole universe looked down at a world like that, a world God made and then watched us destroy, and felt so much compassion He thought,​ “I have to go to them.”

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ​”​Emmanuel” which means “God with us”.

God with us.

What if that’s all the answer we get. What if that’s the whole point? What if the entire Christmas story is simply meant to show us that God can and does exist in this broken,​ flawed,​ complex world?  Here amid the sadness, pain, and violence we can still find the divine, if we only remember to look. What if God loved us so much God left heaven and took on the fullness of the human experience simply to show us we are not alone. Not God the all powerful, but God the all personal.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

What if that’s God huddled with doctors or patients or concert goers when the gun fire explodes? What if that’s ​God on a raft escaping Syria? What if God is in the hospital bed at the cancer ward? If God were young and black and poor and working a minimum wage job would we know it?  Would we recognize God in a stable? In a manger​? On the road to Egypt in the dead of night?  Can we learn to sense God’s​ presence when we’re frightened or confused or when we simply have no room in the inns of our hectic lives?  What if God is there, in all of it? What if the whole point of the story is to remind us to seek God’s​ presence and to show us how to find it even in the most unlikely places?

How would that change us? How might it change everything?

Emmanuel. God is with us. What if that’s the meaning of Christmas?

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December 1, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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