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Intentional Presence

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent.

Each Sunday we will study a title that was given to Jesus. This coming Sunday’s title is Emmanuel.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

-Matthew 1:23

To be with someone implies presence.

I am with my family when I am physically present with them around the dinner table.

But there are times when I am physically present with my family, but mentally my mind has wandered far away from the dinner table conversation.

Perhaps we should say that to be with someone implies intentional presence. 

It is me choosing to actively listen and be fully engaged with the people that I am with.

The story in Matthew tells us that God is with us. Yes, in Jesus God has become human in order to be intentionally present with us.

When I read this story, I see that God chose to become human because God wants to be with us. God’s deep desire is to dwell in loving relationship with God’s creation.

God is not with us by accident or happenstance, but because of deep desire and longing. 

The Tuesday Bible study will be studying a female Christian mystic from the Middle Ages this afternoon. Her name is Julian of Norwich. Julian fell deathly ill and in this time of sickness she experienced several visions of Jesus. These visions helped her understand the depth of love that God has for God’s creation. I believe her words can help us understand the power of Emmanuel.

In one vision, Julian sees a small hazelnut. She wondered to herself how long it would last, for it seemed so small and so fragile. In her vision she heard God say:

“It lasts, and ever shall last because God loves it. And so all things have Being only by the love of God.”

Julian shares with us that this small, fragile nut exists only because God loves it. In fact, everything in creation (and that includes you!) exists simply by the love of God.

Julian continues:

“In this Little Thing (the hazelnut) I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third, that God keeps it. God is the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover,— and until I am substantially united to God, I may never have full rest nor perfect bliss. That is to say, I seek to be so fastened to Him that there is nothing between my God and me.”

Julian of Norwich understood that God was with her (Emmanuel!). She also understood that everything, all of creation- yes existence itself- only exists because God loves it. You, me, everything we see and experience, is sustained by the love of God.

Or as Julian put it— God is the maker of all, God is the keeper (or sustainer) of all, and God is the lover of all.

As we journey through advent and contemplate together the power of the incarnation, I encourage you to think deeply about the concept of Emmanuel. God is with us because God loves us.

Do you feel God’s presence?

God is seeking a union with you so close and so loving that it will feel like there is nothing between you and God.

God is with you.

Emmanuel.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

This Sunday Pastor Dana will preach on the title of Emmanuel.

See you on Sunday!

-Pastor David

P.S. Tomorrow at 4 pm our Incarnation Bible Study continues. You can join us at this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89649464082

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