Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Selah

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." 
Matthew 1:22&23

It's this prophetic name of that Nazarene carpenter that demands we leave the safety of neutrality and step into a field of faith.  Or step into disbelief.  

But His very name will not allow us to fence-sit, much as we would like.

God with us.

More than a prophet, more than a sage, more than a martyr.  Something more.  Much more.

God with us.


History has had its share of holy men, shamans and such.  They have risen in popularity, fallen in disgrace, enjoyed an enduring fame, faded into forgetfulness.  Some claimed to be gods, some claimed to have special divine qualities.  Some dazzled, some revolted, some ruled, some attained a moniker of legend.

But this Immanuel, this Jesus, what do we do with Him?

Those Greco-Roman gods and Hindu deities are a little simpler to deal with.  Those immortal frat boys, tricking cute human girls and conducted their intrigues in classical soap opera.  They are capricious, silly, egotistical.  They are familiar.  We can recognize them wallowing in our foible styes, right in the mud with us.

But their stories bring us no hope, no revelation about who we are and why we are here.

Enter the mystics, the ones whose cabalistic clues seem deeper and higher and loftier and enigmatic.  It sounds good, it looks cool, it feels enlightened.  But a soft swirl of names and ghostly personalities and practices leave us no one heart to cling to, no one Name to call upon.  

Philosophers, poets, scientists, composers.  Religion as art, thought, verse.

But we were wrought in flesh.

It's a pretty big claim, this Immanuel, this God with us.  And yet, it resonates.

The Father, willing to come to us, willing to wrap Himself in flesh, feel our hurts, operate within the confines of gravity and time, weather and woes.  He comes to us.  He comes not as a ruler but a servant.  Not as an officius expert, but as a rabbi, a teacher.  Not as an immortal from Olympus, but as a baby, born on a dirt floor, amidst blood and water and pain and joy.  

God with us.

The most outrageous claim amongst the mystics, the poets, the myths, the legends.


The very Son of God. Or an extravagant, heavily marketed, strongly branded fraud.

But one or the other.

God with us.

What do we do with this Jesus?


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