Preaching Resources

Preaching Mission for the 4th Sunday in Advent (December 18, 2022)

Materials purchased with funds from the Board of World Mission are delivered to flood victims in Honduras.

Emmanuel, God With Us!
by Bishop Chris Giesler

Preaching Text:  Matthew 1:18-15

Too often in life, even the most committed of Christians compartmentalize their lives such that the realm of God is in one place, and the rest of our lives are in another. There is a God time and a God place….and then there is the rest of life: homes, jobs, school, paying the bills, driving to work or the grocery store, and generally making the hundreds of decisions that we need to make in life. But the true meaning of Christmas is that there is a miracle, and in that miracle, God steps across the boundaries that we establish and comes to reside where we are….God is with us.

March 2nd, 1791 John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, someone who has deeply influenced by his interactions with the Moravians,  opened his eyes and exclaimed for the very last time, upon his deathbed, these words: “The best of all is this: God is with us.”

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Israelite people were in a tough place. They were under Roman domination, meaning their country’s resources were sent to Rome to benefit the Emperor. People were profoundly poor, and life was difficult. But amid the miserable nature of life, these people knew a more profound truth:

  • Moses – caught between the Pharaoh and the deep Red Sea in a seemingly hopeless situation, believed that God was with him, and he went forward and trusted God to open a way, and He did!
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went into the fiery furnace in a seemingly hopeless situation, and they trusted God to be with them, and He was!
  • Little David stood before Goliath. What chance could a small boy with a slingshot have against this giant of a warrior? But David believed God was with him, and it made all the difference!

They knew that no matter what, God had been with them and would be with them again. The word for this is Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Now, it’s interesting to note that when the writer of Matthew’s Gospel wanted to capture the meaning of Christmas, the meaning of the Christ event, and the meaning of Jesus in a single word, he used that very same word Emmanuel, God is with us. “His name shall be called Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

God IS with us:

What kind of God is with us: active, makes things happen even when it seems hard to believe it, gracious, a God who works through the strangest people.

We all come to points in our lives when we are fearful, angry, dismayed, sorrowful, or disappointed. And to all of that, I say Emmanuel…God is with us.

  • When we are fearful…Emmanuel!
  • When we are angry…Emmanuel!
  • When we are dismayed…Emmanuel!
  • When we are in sorrow…Emmanuel!
  • When we are disappointed with ourselves…Emmanuel!

What does it mean to say that God is with us? It means that God cares enough for us individually that he seeks to invade the chaos of our lives. What amazing love. Do you understand that this is what Christmas is all about? It’s more than the birth of a special baby; it is more than an angel’s song. God invades our world, losing all power and dignity to die on a cross on our behalf. God did all of that simply to be “Emmanuel”….God is with us.

God is with us! It is interesting to note that  Matthew closes his Gospel with Jesus saying: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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