This 4th Sunday of Advent we are introduced to the title ‘Emmanuel” which means “God is with us” in the sense that he walks with us. That is fascinating, God, our eternal creator, wants to be with his creation. God desires relationship with us and offers us his support and company on life’s path so that we might be protected by him in times of trial, and rejoice and thank him for the plenitude of his graces. Yet this journey in Jesus Christ is for Him, from the hard wood of the crib to the blood stained wood of the cross, from the cold bleak winter’s night of his birth to the cold rock slab of his tomb. Jesus’s life with us is one that ends in suffering and death. He experiences these dark elements of human existence in order that they might be transformed through the salvific action of His death on the Cross and his rising to new life at the resurrection. Christmas and Easter are inextricably linked, we cannot think of one without the other. This is why Mother seemed to me to be so embarrassing at Carol Services: she would weep rather than rejoice because she would say, ‘But look what is going to happen to this baby, it’s dreadful!” My Mom, like all Moms -was right (ahem!) – but we should not get these things out of balance. We rejoice with the angels and shepherds in expectation that Emmanuel is with us. We weep in Holy week for the passion of Our Lord. But we rejoice again, this time in committed thanksgiving, for the new life given us by the resurrection of that Emmanuel who has become our Christ and loving savior and who tells us, just as the angels will tell the shepherds, “do not be afraid”.
May God bless you, your families, and the week ahead,
Fr Aidan Peter