Saint Matthew tells us that the Lord had said through the prophet that the virgin will be with child and they will call him Immanuel which means “God with us”. It is this name – Immanuel- which takes on added meaning at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Christ. This event in our common history tells us of how God Almighty came among us in humility to live as we live, to walk where we walk, to see what we see. He does so, not from a lofty throne, but with us in our sorrow and joy, in life and death.
2020 has been a year that we will remember. In some ways, it has been a lost year, a year without any plan or direction, a year without confidence or certainty. It has been a year when truth has been shrouded in “fake news” and conspiracy theory and when we have truly stepped into the unknown. It is not the first time this has happened. There have been many “plagues” that have affected us through history and throughout the world but this has been the first in a world which is so interconnected and interdependent.
At a personal level, families have been separated, the elderly and vulnerable have become isolated, and loved ones have died. Poverty, depression, anxiety have increased. Yet there have been moments of celebration that have dotted our landscape. We have seen the dedication of our health care workers. We have witnessed heroic efforts being made for charitable causes and we have testified to the beautiful deeds of kindness shown to one another.
In the midst of the worst of times, we may have asked the question “Where is God in the midst of this crisis?” or “Why can’t God come down and sort this out?” At this season of the year, we are reminded that God is in the midst of us, he has entered this broken world and he is Immanuel which means “God with us”. In the child born to Mary, we see our Saviour, Jesus, and we humbly place our trust in him.
In the quietness of this particular Christmas, may we know the presence of Immanuel in our lives and in our homes.
+ Larry Duffy
Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher
Archdeacon Brian Harper
Church of Ireland Archbishop’s Commissary for the Diocese of Clogher