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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent.

Sunday, as many will be aware, was the First Sunday of Advent - the season in the Christian calendar during which we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the Incarnation.  That miracle is explained, as succinctly as is possible, by the name given through the prophet Isaiah, and reiterated - and defined -  by the apostle Matthew: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us)." (Matt 1:23; cf Is.7:14).


But can we unpick that definition a little more?  What does Matthew mean by "God with us"?  Well, the easy understanding is that, in the Persona (see the chapter on the "Trinity" in my book, Great Words of the Faith; - details at top of page) of the Son, Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the great "I AM"; took upon Himself human flesh, and entered the very time-space continuum that He had created.  I am reminded of that great saint of the Old Covenant, Enoch.  I make reference to one of my favourite Old Testament characters in "Great Words", where I write:


"Remember the great old patriarch, Enoch?  I love those words recorded of him in Gen.5:23-24 – “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.” Or, as the older translations put it, “... he was not; for God took him.” (KJV).


So what happened to Enoch?  Well, what I am now going to share is, I confess, totally speculative.  But I share it with you because I am convinced, not only of its possibility, but of its probability!  I believe that those words are telling us that, every morning, when Enoch awoke, his first words were “Well, Lord, where are we going today; what will we be doing?”  And the Lord told him.  Then, one day, he awoke and, having asked the same question, was told by God, “Today, Enoch, dear friend, you are coming to my place.  Let’s go!”  And Enoch simply walked through that ultra-fine veil that separates time from eternity."   

Enoch knew the reality of "Emmanuel" - God with us!

But "Emmanuel" doesn't just refer to the presence of God; it also refers to the purpose of God.  You see, He came among us not as some cosmic experiment, but for a definite, and specific, reason.  He came, so that He could live among us; experience all that we experience ("yet without sin": see Hebrews 4:15); and, at the end, take upon Himself the punishment that we deserve - bearing "... our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." (I Peter 2:24).  He came in order that sinful people like us could know His eternal pardon - and His eternal life!


Christmas is the time, for so many, when gifts are given and received.  Indeed, for too many in the western world, that is now all that it is!  Yet the majority will ignore the greatest Gift of all - salvation through faith in the Lord, Jesus the Christ: an act of divine grace that we can never, ever deserve.
The Gift is available to all.  However, like any gift, it may be rejected. 

It would be my longing that all who read this post would accept that Gift.  If anyone requires further, more personal, help then please feel free to contact me using the e-mail address at the top of the page.  I only check that one a couple of times each week, but I shall respond.  Alternatively, there are some useful links in the right-hand margin of the blog.

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