From Matthew 1: 18 – 23
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’
EMMANUEL – the law-giver, the peace-bringer, the heart-healer. We long for a presence among us that can bring us to something we call ‘home’, where we are at one with our deepest longing. You are our God, come and save us – from ourselves, from our selfishness, our pride and arrogance, from our self-pity and our self-doubt. Come and save us Emmanuel, from the fears that hold us in the dark: our fears of others who are different than we are, our fears of changes and issues that clash. Emmanuel – it is to us: to us that a child is born – and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name will be called ‘wonderful counselor, mighty and everlasting God, Prince of Peace. To us does God reveal tenderness in the person of Jesus. To us does God show might and power, in the fragile gift of a child born to a woman. To us. To our very selves is Jesus given! God takes on flesh so that every home becomes holy, every human person becomes the Christ, and all food and drink becomes a sacrament. The very gift of Christmas is our own call to empty ourselves in order to be made pregnant with the Word. We are responsible for the gift – and our task is to nurture it and love it into live. Each of us are called to mother-forth the Christ given to us as gift. St. Bernard said “what use is it to us if Christ be born in Bethlehem and not in our own hearts?” We are called to bring Christ to birth in the world through the way we live with others. We too are Theotokos – Christ bearers to the world. (Sr. Doreen McGuff)
From “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”:
O come, O come Emmanuel!
And ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.