Riverside Christian Reformed Church

Worship on Sundays at 10:15am
602 Comstock Blvd. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505​
(616) 361-0604

Immanuel – God With Us

Categories: The View From The Pew

Immanuel, literally – the God with us, He Himself will save His people from their sins. We must not understate how radical this is.

Immanuel - God With Us


Typically, when I hear Pastor Ben’s sermons, I have a response to them. I’m moved in one way or another, and then I try to write about that. This time it’s different. This was Christmas.

Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

“Why is this night different from all other nights?” Those words, from the Jewish Pesach Haggadah, usually spoken by the youngest person at the table, are meant to express the child’s confusion about how the Passover meal is different from all the other every-day meals, or even the other feast meals. Christmas is radically different. Easter is radically different. We must not forget, nor minimize how wondrous and different the very idea of “God with us” is.

If you haven’t heard it yet, listen to Pastor Ben’s message, Immanuel, before you read further. Afterwards, you’ll understand how his words, in what I’m calling the “God with us” section, sound more like poetry than a sermon, and you should read them again below. These words are pulled directly from Pastor Ben’s manuscript.

God With Us

God with us in all our flesh-and-blood realities.
God with us in diapers.
God with us nursing at Mary’s breast.
God with us in a barn with the animals, the stinky sheep-keepers, and those quirky stargazers.
God with us in learning to drink from a cup without spilling down his chin.

God With Us

God with us as tax-collectors and sinners.
God with us as prostitutes and lepers and outcasts.
God with us as little children lifted on His knee.
God with us in the healing of the sick.
God with us in opening the eyes of the blind.
God with us in unstopping the ears of the deaf.
God with us in raising the lame to their feet.
God with us in loosing the mute tongues unto shouts of joyous praise.
God with us in the dusty feet of a long road and the dinged up hands of hard work.

God With Us

God with us in the tears of Lazarus’ graveside.
God with us in the questions of faith.
God with us in the joys of discovery.
God with us in prayer.
God with us in breaking the bread and lifting the cup of wine to his lips.
God with us at the dinner table with something in His teeth.

God With Us

God with us on the good days
God with us on the ordinary ones.
God with us in the long nights.
God with us in the uncontrollable tears cried alone in the dark.
God with us in the mocking giggles of the other students.
God with us in the wake of our teenage mistakes.
God with us in the midst of our parenting failures.
God with us in the helpless moments when our child is in trouble and there isn’t one single thing we can do about it.
God with us in the haunts of our trespasses.
God with us in the trials of our addiction.
God with us in hurt of our disorders.
God with us in the news of the doctor’s that sucks our stomachs into our throats.
God with us as the disease saps our strength, our patience, and our trust.
God with us in the nursing home where our once strong and massive grandfather lies in a bed of frailty.
God with us when Alzheimer’s forces us to introduce ourself to our own mother.
God with us in the hospice room of this earthly life’s last, pitiful and ugly breath.
God with us in stripes upon His back, spit on His face, insults in His ears, thorns upon His brow, nails in His hands, and every ounce of rebellion’s weakness, pain, and struggle on His shoulders, unto His desperate cry and final ragged breath.

God With Us

God with us in walking out of that grave.
God with us in Easter’s amazement.
God with us in resurrection newness that walks through walls.
God with us in all our Thomas doubts.
God with us in ascension humanity.
God with us in Pentecost indwelling.
God with us in the miracle of faith.
God with us in every single instance of heaven’s might through Gospel proclamation unto salvation’s realization.
God with us in each and every Sunday morning, Tuesday afternoon, and Friday night in which the Christmas crazy in our Gospel heads grows into the Easter assurance of our Gospel hearts.

Author: Brian Atkinson

Brian is an international and inspirational speaker, consultant, and voice artist. Brian has served as the Director of Digital Communications at American Bible Society, and the Director of Digital Media at The Bible Gateway (Gospel Communications International). He has worked as a communications director, technology manager, church-planter, radio announcer, welder, and ice cream man. He has a lot of t-shirts.