Immanuel, God with us – and when have we needed it more?
As we journey through advent this year, with all the chaos and injustice that we are witnessing in our world, it is so crucial for me to keep coming back to fact of “Immanuel – God with us”.
Yes, the world is a mess. It is very, very broken and sadly, I have come to know that my own personal brokenness contributes to the brokenness of our world. On my own I am without hope.
That’s why Jesus came. Because I was without a hope. We all are without him. We cannot fix or save ourselves and so it should not be too hard to come to the conclusion that for us to fix the world’s problems is way out of the realm of possibility. It is just too big.
For many people the solution to all the madness out there is to retreat – to keep their own little kingdom safe and secure through stricter laws, stronger walls and higher fences to protect what they hold as precious. And if in fact these may be needed in some cases, stronger walls and higher fences have never been known to transform the hearts and souls of anyone, ever.
But – good news! “Lift up your eyes, see the King is come, the light of the world reaching out for us.” (One of my favorite songs). Scripture tells us that the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is not a God who is up there in Heaven, unconcerned with us and what is transpiring on this orb of dirt, rock and water. He is the God-who-comes. The God who is with us. He is the God who comes and dwells among us, who moves into our neighbourhood. The God who comes to save.
In our present moment, right now where ever we find ourselves, God is a God who comes. Immanuel.
With all we are hearing about our world it is easy to connect the need of people to know and experience Immanuel in France, Beruit, Syria and Greece. In places of war, famine, persecution and refugee camps.
And Immanuel is needed there.
When have those in power, the decision makers, or the powerless, who have no voice, needed Immanuel if not today? The refugee clinging to a life raft with one hand and her child with the other, or the soldier guarding the border of the country he protects – both in need of Immanuel at this moment.
Let’s remember He is the God who comes in Central Alberta as well. In what seems to be the mundane 9 to 5, or in the moment of your worst nightmare. He comes to the haves and the have nots, young and old, the marathon runner and the hospital dweller, strong and weak. Whether your mortgage is paid off or you are homeless, whether you had reservations at a steak house last night or stood in the line at a soup kitchen. He comes. Immanuel.
It is good news. The eternal God comes into the flesh and blood of humanity. The God of mercy comes into the history of humanity to bring us peace. He comes to save and to restore that which is broken, to bring a peace of mind and heart and soul that the world cannot give.
God also sent Jesus to be our King. Throughout His ministry Jesus announced the “good news of the Kingdom of God” as he set people free from oppression and sickness. He invited people then to be a part of the Kingdom of God He was leading and he invites us still today.
The Kingdom of God is a group of people who are surrendered to the will of the King, empowered by His Spirit, and joining His mission. They are called to reflect God’s heart. As part of the Kingdom we are called to care for the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner, those taken captive to substance abuse, those living in loneliness, violence, and poverty. God wants to know if He can use our lives to lead them to freedom. To experience Immanuel.
God wants to use you as His hands and feet in this world. God wants to love the world through us by empowering us to humbly serve the people around us. It is one way that He can be Immanuel to people. God does not build walls and fences, his kingdom does not retreat. It advances through our compassionate response to other human beings in our city and around the world.
I have a Christmas wish list to share with you. These are some of the opportunities that lie before us in Local Initiatives to engage with youth and families in our city. These are needs that can be met through God’s people using the gifts that he has given you to advance his Kingdom here.
Local Initiatives Christmas wish list
Runners! Not the shoes, but people who run. Afterschool clubs at 4 of our elementary schools led by Hope Mission have kids training for a 5 km run in June. Most of these youth have never attempted anything like this before and need adults and teens to coach and encourage them. If you are a runner or would like to learn to run alongside a young person this is a great opportunity.
Cooks and bakers. Do you like to spend time in the kitchen? One of our elementary schools is looking for a few people who would be willing to instruct elementary kids in some of the basics of cooking and baking and some kitchen safety thrown in for good measure. This would take place after school. Women and Men welcome.
Local Compassion Committee. We are currently seeking a few more people who will join us in prayer and decision making for the opportunities that are presenting themselves to us as a church in the area of the single parent home and vulnerable youth.
Single Moms Fellowship. Currently we are seeking a woman with a heart for this group to join the leadership team. You do not have to be a single parent to take on this role.
BBBS. There are currently 60 young people on the waitlist for a mentor. The majority of these are boys looking for a Big Brother. All schools in Red Deer are looking for in school mentors.
Please contact Laurie at LaurieW@CrossRoadsChurch.ca if you would like information on any of the above opportunities.