In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Isaiah 7: 14; 8:8; Matthew 1: 23; and John 15: 5
Immortal One, born miraculously of a virgin, entering humbly into this world in a manger, worshiped by lowly shepherds, awe-struck in the eyes of wise men, God has indeed joined humankind and lands safely on planet earth. Immanuel, God is with us. Let all the earth rejoice!
The prophet Isaiah foretold his arrival through the sign of the impossible: a virgin will conceive miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit and a son will be born. Isaiah pronounced the King’s arrival by the metaphor of the outspread wings of the floodwaters which will cover the breadth of the land. O Immanuel, the prophet declares, you will cover the earth with outstretched arms of love.
During Lent we are reminded once more of Immanuel, the God who has, is, and continues to be with us. This Immanuel is Jesus, sent to cover our worlds completely and expansively, enveloping our lives from the inside out. When Jesus begins human life, the God-man reaches out to all who cross his path with an generous earnestness and an intentional proactivity which will be marveled at by some and stiff armed my many others. But to those who receive his gift of love, do so with outstretched arms of anticipation and gladness.
God with us, Immanuel, therefore invites us to a “with God” existence. His presence, power and peace are always being initiated toward us, all the time and in every circumstance. Frankly, our great God, personalized in Jesus, will always come to us in merciful, grace-filled, forgiving, and tender-loving ways. The question is not whether he will deliver on his promises to be with us, instead, will we keep our word of desire and decree that we choose to be with him?
It’s a “with God” life that matters most to all who claim his name as Christian. During Lent, we have many opportunities to abide with him as he so graciously abides with us. What does your “with God” existence look like and how is it you wish to show your allegiance to Jesus this Lenten season?
Perhaps you might consider how best to pray during Lent…doing all the talking to God, or choosing instead to notice, listen, and give thanks? Perhaps you might sense an invitation from God to repent of your sinfulness and turn back to godliness? Perhaps you might encourage and celebrate the lives of those who know you best and love you most? Perhaps you might focus more on slowing down and being more, rather than racing faster and accomplishing the most?
Behold him In the sacred light of this new day…believe his promise to be with you forever…belong to his lineage as a faithful disciple…become a person enveloped by his unconditional love. Amen.