In-Sight: Immanuel

​Michael Card has been one of my favorite musicians for a long time, recognized by many as a musical theologian, not just a performer.  His composition, “Immanuel,” is the song Jeannie and I turn to every Advent. We are still moved listening to it, even after doing so for decades.

Immanuel is the one-word summary for Advent—God with us.  The cosmic Christ fit into a manger and lived among us full of grace and truth (John 1:14, 17).  Indeed, the Kingdom of God has come near.  We no longer have to ask what God is like.  Jesus puts a face on God.  We no longer have to ask what it means to be a disciple.  We are followers of Christ.  We no longer have to ask what the Christian life is.  It is Christlikeness.

Immanuel provides the vision, the intention, and the means of our faith and our life. [1]  Indeed, in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).  Advent is not a time to limit our focus on “baby Jesus,” though the stories in Matthew and Luke are memorable and moving.  Advent is a time, as the word shows, to begin (begin again) our journey “with God.”  Advent is the reminder that it is God who initiated the journey, becoming incarnate in Jesus—and who now, through the Holy Spirit, continues to be with us.  Immanuel is the one-word reminder that we are never alone. [2]

Advent is our annual opportunity to renew the with-God life.  The Christian Year begins in Advent as a realization of the fact that twelve months is the maximum amount of time any of us should be in a distant relationship with God.  Every year, God says in Christ, “I am with you.”  Every year, God asks, “Will you be with me?”  And in these days of Advent, we have the marvelous opportunity to respond, “Yes, O yes!”

Listen, as Michael Card takes you into this good news…

[1] The ‘Life With God Bible’ (HarperOne, 2005) uses the “With-God Life” the interpretive paradigm for the entirety of Scripture.  This version of the Bible was developed by Richard Foster and others involved in the Renovaré spiritual formation ministry, and it is remains the central resource of that ministry.

[2] Joseph Girzone has written a moving testimony to this reality in his book. ‘Never Alone’ (Doubleday, 1994).

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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