Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Week of Advent - Hope

As I prayed the Gospel this morning with the children, I was struck by the lines within the New Testament which come directly from the Old Testament reading from Isaiah:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.

Imagine Joseph upon hearing these words from Scripture within his dream, spoken to him by an angel;  imagine the comfort he must have felt knowing that God was blessing him.  No matter what troubles he might have to endure in his life, he was comforted by the hope of Emmanuel as promised in Scripture.  

From a human perspective, I can believe it was still very difficult trying to be a man in this precarious situation given the times he lived in, but knowing that God offered him hope through the words of the prophets must have given him the strength he needed to do what might otherwise have seemed impossible.

Emmanuel.  God is with us.  Emmanuel.  Hope. Joy.  Love. Peace.    I often reflect upon my own steps during this beautiful season of Advent, all times truthfully, but Advent offers a specific focus each week.  

During Week One, was I at Peace?  More importantly, did I offer Peace?  Did I put aside difficulties with others so as to create Peace within those relationships?  Did I draw upon Christ for the strength do to so?  Also, did I bring Peace to others whom I do not know.  The store clerks, the nurses in a doctor's office, the customer service rep on the telephone.  Was I Peace to those I encountered?  

Week Two exudes Love.  Again, I ask myself, was I Love to all who I interacted with?  Was I Love to those that I may not feel deserve to have my Love.  I remind myself of how undeserving I am of His Love, but He offers it.  Freely.  And generously.

Week Three proclaims Joy!  The children can not wait to light that rose colored candle as they wait in JOYFUL HOPE for the coming of Christmas.  How Joy-filled have I allowed this time to be?  Or did I allow it to be a period of stress and anxiety that proclaims nothing but misery, guilt, and feelings of ambivalence?  

Week Four has arrived and we now turn to Hope.  The Hope of Christmas.  The Hope of the Savior; Emmanuel.  Not just a name or a title; a promise.  A Hope-filled promise from God that He is with us always.  Even when we are not at peace.  When we do not love.  When we have lost our joy.  He offers us hope through His gift to us.

My faith calls me to be the hands and feet of Christ as I am a member of the body of Christ.  So, today, my deep reflection leaves me with this question...
Am I Emmanuel to those I meet?
My prayer is that I am.  I know that I am not nearly as loving as I am called to be, but my HOPE lies in the Emmanuel within me.  And as I sing Psalm 24, I leave my heart open even more to allow Him to transform me to the point where I do not recognize myself.  
Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.