A theme interpretation written by Matt DeBall, coordinator of Mission Advancement Communications, for the 2023 Advent Offering of the Church of the Brethren
“The young woman, who has never had a man, will give birth to a son. They will give Him the name Immanuel. This means God with us.” ~Matthew 1:23, NLV
“Only God can save.”
This phrase was repeated by our Christian Theology professor in undergraduate studies. This simple yet profound statement emphasizes God’s ability to help humanity in ways that we are not able to help ourselves. Through the redemptive work of Jesus, we understand that is not by human intervention, but by the work of God that healing and salvation are found for all that ails the earth.
As humans, it is natural for us to believe that we’re in control of our lives, but as God-fearing people, we believe every heartbeat and every breath is a gift from God. And just as God’s life-giving presence sustains every rhythm of our bodies, we understand that God provides strength for our mouths to speak encouraging words, stability for our hands to share in acts of service, and support for every way we show compassion to others.
During the season of Advent, we remember the promise of Immanuel, God with us. We prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the fresh expression of God’s presence in the world. We acknowledge the renewed invitation to declare our dependence on the God who reveals great love and saves.
Within the Church of the Brethren, we believe that God’s presence guides and sustains every mission and ministry that we carry out together. In the life of congregations and the larger church, it is because God is among us that we have come this far and can remain hopeful about the future.
Remembering how the peaceful and love-filled ways of God save, let us celebrate how God is with us. Through Advent and onward, let us pray for God’s presence to be increasingly seen and experienced among us.