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“Rejoice! Rejoice!! Immanuel”, proclaims the 15th Century hymn. This was like any typical Christmas song, except for the appealing minor chords. And I did not see anything significant about it until recently.

My journey of discovery took an interesting turn around this same time last year. It is hard to believe that it’s been a year already.  As many people seem to be preparing for their jolly activities, I was going through a frigidly frightfully lonely time. I don’t recall being confronted with such a wicked emotion that had a raw and bitter grip.  I certainly had no reason to rejoice and don’t even remember hearing Christmas songs or seeing any lights – I really don’t! It was just a bland seasonal expanse of nothingness.

Life dealt me an ugly hand. Facing a cruel betrayal and a chilling abandonment my belief about God and every theology about His presence were put to the test. How could a God who is supposedly ever-present be so far away? How could he allow such painful betrayal? Where is He in my troubles? I asked a bit fearful but demanding. I remember asking many more questions I don’t feel matured enough to reveal yet.

On Christmas morning it snowed. It had no beauty and lost its wonder. My nagging trouble persistently suffocated any chance of contemplating the reason for the season. Then it happened.

A text. . . .

Then a phone call . . .

A sacred delight!

Sacred because God granted it.

And a delight, because I never expected it.

In the expression of the much used religious jargon, “God showed up!” As if to question His truth claim of being with me always, with a ‘where have you been all along?’

As the day progressed, the warmth of true friends and the delight of tasty meals punctuated the rest of my Christmas day.

My situation hadn’t change but my perception had shifted. I rejoiced in the assurance of ‘God with me!’

Isn’t that what Immanuel means? God with us! The Creator of the universe making His abode among mortal mankind. So baby Jesus must have experienced hunger, pain and hurt. And later on in His life faced bitter rejection, abandonment by best of friends, and immense suffering. No wonder we have an advocate who can sympathize with our weaknesses. We can therefore go to Him boldly that we may obtain mercy and grace when needed.

God with us! Immanuel, Yes God with us!

No matter what you find yourself in – betrayed, rejected, without a job, or gift, facing sickness or anything imaginably worst – God is with you! Rejoice in the hope that in the midst of your troubles, God is with you! While the situation may certainly not be joyful do well to impute joyfulness to it knowing very well that God IS with you!

And if all is well with you, don’t squander a great opportunity to show gratitude to God by bringing joy to a needy person – nothing opulent: a phone call, a smile, a warm meal. . .

That is the significant essence as we celebrate during the Christmas season. God came and dwelt among humans in order that He may have the same experiences we encounter making Him the best advocate who truly understands.

So when you hear O come, o come Immanuel,

Rejoice, rejoice for you are never alone!

God is for you . . . .

God is with you . . . .

Here is a link to a contemporary rendition of the song I write about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPfdD3pBUig&feature=related

Have a very Merry Christmas!!