Matthew 1: 23: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
About two months ago I preached a sermon, which was titled “The Masterpiece”. It was based on 1 Corinthians 13. When I began to prepare the sermon I was thinking that the masterpiece was 1 Corinthians 13, written by the Apostle Paul. From the get go I was planning to lift this up in my sermon. However, shortly after beginning my preparations it dawned on me – that is, I had an epiphany -- that the Masterpiece was not 1 Corinthians 13. The Masterpiece is love! No doubt that the Apostle Paul wrote a brilliant and awe-inspiring description of love. Yet, love is God’s true creation of sheer magnificence and immensity that we know is worthy of our wonder and devotion.
In the birth narrative of Matthew we read that one of the names Jesus will be known by is “Emmanuel”. We know the meaning of this name: “God is with us”. In the Christian faith this is the meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ: God is with us. In his life, in his teachings, in his love, in his death, in his being, Jesus means God is with us! The form of Jesus is love. The form of Jesus is God.
Now, “God is with us” must be on a parallel with “God is love” (1 John). In fact, these two statements are two sides to one coin. God’s love is always with us. From the beginning of time: God’s love is with us. For all people, yes even those who are immigrants and migrants and queer and straight: God’s love is with us. Jesus was this message, this truth, this life, this incarnation.
And the immensity of this love knows no boundaries. It cannot be contained in any way. It goes beyond the loftiest ideas. In fact, no idea or doctrine or creed can ever really hold in its territory the immensity of love. No religious thought can ever approximate this masterpiece: love – God’s love – divine love – divine love in human flesh – universal love – inclusive love – unconditional love - all-encompassing love!
If love is in your heart for another, then Emmanuel is there. God is there!