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Posts Tagged ‘Emmanuel’

Hope Floats by Lori McNee

Hope Floats by Lori McNee

For the first Sunday of Advent, churches all over the world are lighting a single candle and speaking of HOPE: essentially the hope is of Christ whose coming has been promised and whose coming, we know, did happen. But then, if that Christ came, what is our hope today? Merely for His coming again or something else?

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? Romans 8:24 [NIV]

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”– Isaiah 7:14). Matthew 1:23

Today and tonight, our church also began this Advent season with a cry for hope but with much more power. Jess Bousa announced “It is time for us to stop thinking of the Christmas story as a baby shower.” Yes, it’s sweet that Jesus is depicted as coming among the poor, entertained by mild cows and sheep, and witnessed by the outcast shepherds of the day. But what of the other point? That God sent Spirit into a human woman to create a Savior, someone who could both live and die for us, fully human and fully God, sacrificing all, in order to deposit the Holy Spirit into each one of us : Emmanuel, God with us (in us).

So, if we have Emmanuel. Tonight, one of our worship leaders, Dale Woodring, shared: “If we have Christmas inside us every day and every month, then there is no need to fear holiday commercialism or misplaced focus, God is bigger than all that. God is not worried about the point of Christmas being missed because we have Emmanuel inside of us.”

We don’t have to hope for Emmanuel, if we have accepted the truth of the work of Christ to re-establish our relationship with God, then the Spirit is within us.

So, what dHopeo we hope for? Manifestation of Emmanuel in us. We hope for an explosion of a unified Spirit in humans, the ultimate human who lives and breathes and walks in the power of grace and mercy and love, fully trusting the Presence within, accepting the ongoing paradox of a life in Christ, for to live, truly live, is Christ [Philippians 1:21].

Hope is a word of confidence, an expectation of a good result, with or without evidence, hope remains. Hope is active, not passive. Hope can be regenerated. Hope loves. Hope sees. Hope is born in Emmanuel.

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I have been contemplating this word for the last few days. I have not been able to move forward. I am challenged. I am calmed. I am in awe of the very idea of Immanuel. Not just then, but now. Right now.

Matthew 1:23
Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. [Amplified]

The Hebrew translation looks like this: עִמָּ֫נוּאֵ֫ל
The Greek like this: Ἐμμανουήλ

It’s a description, not a first name. It’s a state of being. It’s a promise. It’s a reality, whether a person believes it or not. It’s like gravity: exists.

God is with us. God with us. God–Us. God.

Immanuel sung by Steve Green and accompanied by Michael Card.

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Every endeavor has rules. I hate that. Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the sixties [age-alert] but there’s some part of me that wants to rebel just at the whiff of rules. But why? Why have they become limitations instead of opportunities for excellence?

II Timothy 2:5
Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.

In reality, it’s the rules or the finiteness of the task and the subsequent precision and commitment to working within that framework that separates the good from the great.

When Paul uses a sports analogy, the first sport that comes to my mind is diving. It’s so terribly precise. All those Olympic dives look wonderful to me until it’s replayed in slow motion and the announcer breaks down the movements and compares them to perfect.

I also think of ice skating, skiing, even ballet. The individual, in order to reach excellence, must ascribe to a certain set of standards. Ultimately, it is only after reaching the highest benchmark that rules can be broken or bent for the sake of creativity or experimentation or invention.

I remember, as a child, watching a clown on a high wire and I thought he was crazy to be on a high wire with so little experience. He always looked like he might fall off the wire at any moment. It was funny and scary at the same time. Only later, as an adult, did I learn that the clown must have the most precise technique and confidence in order to “play” on the wire. In the same vein, the jazz artist (whether dance or music) must know the fundamentals thoroughly or the modern artist classic proficiency before improvising.

So, in a way, it’s true, the rules are to be broken, but only after understanding and mastering the space between the rules. Once we learn to color inside the lines, then we can venture out.

Now, what has this to do with my faith in the Christ or serving God? What are the basics or rules of my faith? Isn’t it Christ crucified, resurrected, and engaged in human life thereafter through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to reestablish communion with God? And thereby I can walk out in love, light, truth, justice, and faithfulness because God is forever in our midst: Emmanuel. Yes, and so essentially, to live is Christ (the greatest mystery of all).

If Christ is exalted (manifest) in/through me [Philippians 1:20-21], then I am living loved and loving others, I am a light in dark places [Matthew 5;15], I am faith-filled and faithful [Luke 17:5-6], I am a spokesperson for truth [John 17:17], and, best of all, I can know, recognize and collaborate with the Holy Spirit [I Corinthians 6;19].

From here, I can improvise. I can be the clown for Christ. I can be a fool. I can be martyr. I can be a change agent. I can be human as God always intended.

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