“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).
(Matthew 1:21-23 NIVUK)
On Friday I attended a funeral for a remarkable man, Michael Freeman. A world-renowned cardiologist, hundreds came to pay their respects. I knew him as a wise member of a group that meets for dinner regularly for friendship and prayer.
Michael died suddenly; his presence and the depth of humble friendship he offered us will leave a large gap in our circle of friends in Christ. We arrived at the funeral in beautiful weather but with our inner seas roiling with sorrow.
That morning I was meditating on the story of Joseph’s conversation with an angel about his unexpected role in bringing “God with us”. In the middle of nowhere, under despotic political and religious turmoil, and soon to be a refugee, he responded with humble love and compassion.
It was easy to see God’s presence in the people at the funeral but I was struggling to visualize “God with us” as the floods in Asia, the Caribbean and the U.S. have shaken millions. More than a thousand died in the Asian floods. The shock and grief is beyond measure for so many, whether in comfortable surroundings or the raging floods and winds.
Yet we know that our place is working with God, especially in the extremities of life to comfort and care and repair what has been broken. While we know that “God is with us” we become his presence even in the simplest humble acts of caring and love.
A Prayer for Today
Loving God, death and disaster are reminders that today is the best day to do good, love you and love those who cross our paths. Help me to serve and comfort where I can and be watchful for signs that you are present even in the darkest moments. Let me be prepared to be “with” those who need me most this day…for Jesus’ sake