Key Verse: 1:23

“’The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’-which means, ‘God with us.’”

immanuelTomorrow is finals week for UIC. For some of you, Happy Finals doesn’t seem appropriate. It can be downright stressful and scary. So I want to say to you Merry Christmas. But do you know that for some, Merry Christmas is not so merry but depressing. This time of year many people find themselves dissatisfied, unfulfilled, anxious, heart-broken and lonely. So what do we do, we try to fill our days with family gatherings, shopping, social clubbing, all night video playing and for those after finals, binge watching, overeating and yes, oversleeping! But no matter what we do, we can’t shake that feeling of emptiness. Well, I have good news for you. Perhaps in God’s wisdom, we celebrate Jesus birth at the end of the year. As the season of advent suggests, we are all longing for his coming, an eager expectation of an arrival. We long for a new birth in our hearts that will fill us with truth and grace. We are reminded of the reason for the season, which is represented by his name, Jesus, the saving of our sins and Immanuel, the grace of being with us. Friends, Christmas is not about presents, but the presence of God.

peaceHow are you all? What month are we in? What season is it according to the Christian Calendar? In this Advent season there is a huge need for hope. What does Advent mean? Advent means coming. Yesterday as I was driving, I was trying to make a left turn and I forgot to put my turning signal on. There were only two lanes and I was blocking a whole lane and a very mad driver said some very descriptive words. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that. We’ve been there, either the one shouting or the one causing the other to shout. It’s so easy to pass on pain instead of peace.

Explain Ezekiel’s emotional state knowing that God took his wife--his joy and delight--in order to make a point to the people.

“Son of man, with one blow I will take away your dearest treasure (the delight of your eyes). Yet you must not show any sorrow at her death. Do not weep; let there be no tears. 17 Groan silently, but let there be no wailing at her grave…”  (Ezekiel 24:16-17a, NLT).