We are now a few weeks away from Christmas! For us as Christians, it’s that time of year when we reflect on advent, that is, the coming of Jesus to us as Emmanuel, God with us. The pandemic is still very much with us, especially with the surfacing of the latest variant. This is obviously very concerning, but we live in hope in the God who is with us. In the time that Jesus was born, Israel as a nation was going through some turbulent times as well.

First, they were being colonised by the Romans. Second, the heavy taxation from the Roman rule meant that many Israelites were poor. Third, a high level of people were suffering with some form of disease and illness. It was into this challenging context that the story of Mary and Joseph and their struggle and acceptance of what God was about to do in the birth of Jesus is situated. In the midst of such complex global politics and personal hardship, the message of hope came in the form of a vulnerable child declared as Emmanuel:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means God with us’). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” (Matthew 1:20 – 24 NIV)

But the story did not end there. Herod, who felt threatened by this newborn child, decided to commit what could only be described in today’s terms as genocide. Jesus as a vulnerable child had to be protected, hence his family became refugees in North Africa. This aspect of the story speaks into the current refugee situation, as people desperately try to escape conflict, poverty and economic instability to find safety in the West.

Our saviour was a refugee; therefore, He is Emmanuel who truly understands what it means to be a refugee and can also help us to act. But most importantly as we continue in this pandemic season, this advent let us remember the God who is with us in our loneliness, desperation, fear and anxiety.

By Rev Israel Olofinjana

Pray with us:
Pray that our country will experience Emmanuel, God with us, this season, despite the pandemic.

Pray that as Christians we will spread the hope that God is with us indeed this season.

Pray for people who are refugees, who are fleeing difficult situations, that God will be with them.