“Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.”
I love this old hymn by 19th-century abolitionist and Congregationalist minister Jeremiah Rankin. When the Goshen College Men’s Chorus went on tour during spring break of last year, we offered this song as a benedictory blessing to each of the congregations we sang for. I loved to glance out over our audience as we sang the parting hymn each night, seeing this powerful blessing reflected back to us in the shining faces of those in attendance.
To sing these words is to remind ourselves of the promise that we do not walk alone on the journey of life. Wherever we go, however far we wander from the warm embraces of those we know and love, we are held in the unfailing arms of the God who knows and loves us, the God who became fully human to walk beside us as Emmanuel, “God with us.”
Our Scripture passages for this week tell the stories of people desperate for the promise of “God with us”: a novice king fearing for his life; an upright Jewish man with a pregnant fiancée; a suffering people longing for restoration. Perhaps these stories, and many others throughout Scripture, remind us of our own. Forces beyond our control threaten our safety and well-being. A sudden change in our relationships leaves us feeling lost and confused. Grief, anger and worry overwhelm us. How quickly we forget that the Word became flesh and lived as one of us, sharing in our sadness and our joy, our triumphs and failures, our fear and our hope.
During this Advent season, in the midst of our uncertain lives, may we hope and trust in the promise of Emmanuel. God is with us all, now and forever.