Emmanuel - God With Us
"In every man-created hell, there is still Emmanuel."
That is the phrase that has been running through my head since the terrible events of Tuesday 11th September 2001. So much human misery caused by so much evil intent to kill and maim indiscriminately.
And then there is the agony of the relatives waiting for news and hoping against hope that their loved ones will be returned.
But through it all, Emmanuel – God, is with us. This God who did not withhold His only Son nor lift a finger in revenge against the perpetrators.
I think the words formed in my mind because of an incident which began with the disaster at Lockerbie. That little town is so near to our village that we know people involved both as victims and rescuers; and those who are still trying to come to terms with their experiences. I remember hearing the very first radio broadcast and spending the whole of the next day watching the television and praying – almost incoherently for each person, each face, which appeared on the screen. "Emmanuel – Lord, be with that person now". And it was so very close to Christmas!
It was several years later that I talked to someone, who had been called in to Lockerbie to help counsel the relatives. “The only thing which kept me going then,” she said, “was one word which went round and round in my head – Emmanuel”. The Holy Spirit had given my stuttering prayers wings!
And in His sighs our needs are known”
Now we pray through a far greater disaster and one which could have repercussions that few of us can envisage. There are so many needs that we are in danger of being overwhelmed by the mathematics of it all. But pray we must. Take just one person, one need and start there. And one prayer will lead to another, and another.
As if there is not misery enough in the situation, there are those who are taking a malicious pleasure in spreading further fear and apprehension by circulating entirely false "predictions" accredited to Nostradamus. Those people certainly need our prayers!
There will be many jingoistic statements from the grey haired armchair generals. Jingoism – such a strange word which comes from a song popular at the beginning of the Great War in 1914. The war which was going to end all wars! The song more or less said that all the enemies would be beaten by "Jingo!" and everyone would be home by Christmas! As history records, that certainly did not happen.
In three months time it will be Christmas – the season of Emmanuel. That will be a painful time for those who have been bereaved - as will Thanksgiving in America a month earlier. How many will be asking just what they have to be thankful for this year?
Tuesday 11th September 2001 did change the world. Now is a time for a nation to draw together – for nations to draw together – in love and mutual understanding and loss. It is also a time for Christians to reach out and touch the lives of others with Christ – for Christ – not in condemnation, but in love.
Copyright (c) Elizabeth M. Tolson, 15th September 2001
"And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
Matthew 28: 20b
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