I is for Immanuel
Click here to see an overview of the readings/reflections for the next nine nights.
Setting the Scene
“But,” said Moses to God, “if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?” God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you. – Exodus 3:14-15 (NAB)
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” – Matthew 1:23, cf. Isaiah 7:14 (NAB)
“…And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20 (NAB)
Have you ever noticed how often, throughout Scripture, God reminds us that he’s right there with us?
When God reveals his very name to Moses at the burning bush, God tells him, I AM, or more closely translated “I AM the one who is always present.”
When the angel of the Lord tells Joseph of the child in Mary’s womb, he calls to mind the name Emmanuel, first used in YHWH’s promise to be with Ahaz and the kingdom of Judah in the face of their enemies, now used as a reminder that God has not forgotten his people.
When Jesus gives the disciples the Great Commission, he ends with the words that he is always with them.
Knowing this truth — that God is with us — that God speaks this promise into our lives, even at this very moment, makes me want to respond like Moses did when God tells him that he is to speak on God’s behalf: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” It reminds me of the song by Casting Crowns:
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name / Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way / For my ever wandering heart?
And in this moment of reflection, I am reminded of the line sprinkled throughout the Song of Songs:
My beloved is mine and I am his – Song of Songs 2:13
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. – Song of Songs 6:3
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. – Song of Songs 7:10
And so who am I? Who are we that God would be so relentless in his faithfulness and tireless devotion? WE ARE God’s beloved.
And so as you sit in the pews for this fourth night of Simbang Gabi, may you begin to let this truth permeate your whole being:
God is crazy about you — God LOVES you! and promises to stand by you, to be with you, to be present to you in all the big moments, and all the small moments and all the moments in between. In the times when you are celebrating with your loved ones this Christmas, in the times when you are by yourself, questioning, doubting, angry, joyful, in despair — all those moments. God is the One who is Always Present, and it is because you are God’s Beloved.