It is not good for the human to be alone…so says God at the start of things in the second chapter of the Bible (Genesis 2 verse 18). We were made for relationships, and while it’s not given to everyone to have a particular partner or companion, we flourish and thrive best as friends, neighbours, family, and members of the church; by being with others. Being with it seems, is part of what it means to be human. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find that being with is part of what it means to be God, too; for we are made in God’s image. As the Bible’s story unfolds, from God walking with Adam and Eve in the garden, through to “God himself will be with them,” at the end of Revelation, the God who is Father, Son and Spirit in perfect unity seeks us out, not because we’re always nice to be with, but because of who God is.
The theme of our worship and our prayers this month is this being with as we move towards, “He will be called Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’” God’s Son comes as human being to be with human beings, and with the whole creation, to heal and complete us, and enable us to know that we are loved, and not alone. We’ll sing, “O come, o come, Emmanuel” for Advent, almost as if there were a distance for God to travel in order to be with us, but if we gaze quietly within ourselves, we realise there has never been a time when God has not been with us, closer than our heartbeat. Two books by Rev Samuel Wells, the Vicar of St. Martin in the Fields in London, take the theme of “being with” and try to work out what it means for the church’s ministry and mission: how does it shape the way in which we serve others and share God’s love? In eight ways, Sam Wells suggests! That’s quite a lot of ways, but just to list them is to find food for thought and prayer, a fresh perspective, perhaps, on a very familiar season:
presence, attention, mystery, delight, participation, partnership, enjoyment, glory
May we experience all of these, and more, this Advent and Christmas time. In Christ, Simon