O Emmanuel

O With Us is God

O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver,
the desire of all nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God. 

A favorite childhood memory of the season, was the gathering of our extended family in a small town in the state of Washington. We all had reasonable voices so we would go caroling, reaching out into the streets choosing different neighborhoods each year. Part of the fun for a child was to see the surprise, the unexpectedness, in those who heard us outside their doors. Some were shy and stayed put inside, others received us with an open door and welcomed us with warm smiles (even applause).

On the cusp between seasons we arrive at the dazzling core of our faith: that God, the source of all things, desires to communicate, and to receive all things into God's own reality. Emmanuel, God-with-us, finds us in our spiritual quest. But we are found in ways we might not expect, and this is why the sacred story is overflowing with contrasting pictures: the king who would be servant, the lawgiver whose law is love. We are not 'saved' the way human systems do it. Emmanuel enters our reality more the way of the vulnerable child. This is the profound grace of the season. As Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves states in Unearthing my Religion, "...you can't buy it or sell it, own it, manipulate it, or bargain for it. Grace is acceptance, favor, welcome and love..." We receive this grace not in our willfulness but in our willingness. 

--President and Dean W. Mark Richardson

© 2012 Church Divinity School of the Pacific