FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, DAY 22
We light the fourth candle representing love on this final week of Advent.
GOD SHOWS UP
By Mary Pandiani
The Emanuel Story
The Christmas story isn’t only about Jesus’ birth. It also involves all the other characters who make up the narrative of God’s story of Emmanuel – “God with Us.”
Zechariah, a priest for the Israelites, is one of those people. His story includes not believing God when his wife, Elizabeth, tells him after years of trying that she is pregnant with their son. As a result, he is struck mute and cannot communicate again until his son is born, and he names his son John (as in John the Baptist), the cousin of Jesus.
In Luke 1:68-79, the words of adoration and praise come from Zechariah in response to the birth of his son. Zechariah sees the faithfulness of God’s promise as a “new day is dawning” in verse 78. In the darkest places, God breaks through so that we might find ways of peace and freedom.
While I wouldn’t say I was struck mute in 2008 after a difficult decision to leave a position I enjoyed for a number of years. I did lose the voice I once had in people’s lives. I was in a dark place, searching for identity and worth, apart from the vocation that once defined me.
Eventually, I recognized God’s invitation to live into a “new day” of freedom only God provides, not other people or positions. In that place, I began to name the life God has always held for me. My Emmanuel story continues to encourage me today. I have a voice because of the God who is with me, not for any other reason.
God shows up in light and dark places of our life, whether we recognize God or not. So whatever place you might find yourself during this Advent season, know that the Emmanuel story is part of your story just as it is for me and as it was for Zechariah.
God is with you. Emanuel.
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