Experience The Incarnate Reality of God’s Love

Dec 24, 2017

by Rev. John Harrison - PCA Board Member

Christmas is a hard time of year for people who don’t get to be with the ones they love. Yet what makes the Christmas promise so profound is that God does not hide from us in hard times. No song captures this promise more powerfully than the hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel:

 

O Come O Come Emmanuel

 and ransom captive Israel

 that mourns in lonely exile here

until the son of God appear.

 

In this season, and in this emotion, one of the most amazing vehicles of God’s love is a loving congregation. As we light candles together, the light of the world begins to spread out and to surround us on all sides. The shadows lose their fearsome power to hide God’s face, and they become vanquished and subsumed in a light that shines through the darkness into a new day.

 

This is the image that comes to mind as I hear John proclaim that the Word became flesh. In a loving congregation, we get to experience the incarnate reality of God’s love. We get to taste and see together that God is good, and the freedom of the Lord takes on flesh and bone as we share our adoption into God’s family.

 

The ministry of each Prison Congregation is to lend our flesh to the Word whose life is the light of all people. God’s promise is real enough to walk inside the gates and hear the clank behind us knowing all the while that Jesus walks before us. God’s promise is real enough that it can reach us across the distance of any exile. Indeed, God was born in the very shadows that once seemed so hidden and so far gone.

 

In this ministry, we taste and see the freedom we have in Jesus Christ together as one body in the flesh-and-blood reality of his salvation. It is on this path and in this light that we can all sing together the final words of the verse:

 

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

 

God is with us, God is for us, and in Prison Congregations around the country tonight, the Word has become flesh and lives among us. 



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