… and you shall give him the name Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'”

I read these words from the angel to Joseph in a dream, in our morning worship before the sermon. When we begin our worship, every Sunday, we light the candles at either end of the altar table, to remind us of the presence of God with, in, and among us as we worship.

Today was no different. Usually the candle flames burn straight, still and unmoving; today they were delightfully mischievous in their flickering – a cleverly timed reminder on this fourth Sunday in Advent, of God’s presence and love.

So, actually, today was wonderfully different. As a moving sermon was spoken from the pulpit, I noticed the flame on the candle closest to me, leaning to the right, in my direction.

Well, Sara, that could have been the air from the heating system or an expected flicker from a live flame.

Maybe. But what if not? The what if of this very small observation which unfolded all sorts of comforts and delights in the context of the nativity drama kept me in hope, peace, joy and love this morning as a clear reminder of God’s presence with our church, with me, with us, tilted and flickered its holy dance during worship in the little chapel.

In a season of uncertainty for Andrew and me, the reminder of God with us in Immanuel was a well-timed breath of air – fresh, stale , it doesn’t matter: it was a deep inhale of promise and hearty exhale of gratitude.

God is with us. In the beginning, in the quiet whisper to Elijah, as an angel in a dream to Joseph, in a tilting candle flame for me.

In advent we anticipate the coming of Christ, Yeshua, our liberator. In him we encounter the incarnation of God’s most generous gifts to us: hope, peace, joy, and love. And we call him Immanuel which means “God is with us.”

Thanks be to God.

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