‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means ‘God is with us.’ Matthew 1:23
Emmanuel – God With Us
The 17th Century Poet-Priest, George Herbert, has in his poem The Bag a remarkable image of ‘God with us’; God ‘undressed’ of his glory, and ‘dressed’ in our humanity. Here is part of the (amended) poem:
“…then let me tell thee a strange story.
The God of power, as he did ride
In his majestic robes of glory,
Reserv’d to (a)light; and so one day
He did descend, undressing all the way.
The stars his (at)tire of light and rings obtain’d,
The cloud his bow, the fire his spear,
The sky his azure mantle gain’d.
And when they ask’d, what he would wear;
He smil’d and said as he did go,
He had new clothes a-making here below.
Italicised is Herbert’s reading of Philippians 2, v. 6-8a – God took on human nature, to be with us in his ‘new clothes’. It was in these clothes, unrecognised, he endures ‘many a brunt’, gives up his life to make a way to access to the heart of God his Father. Now we may safely put whatever we are or have ‘very near my (Jesus’ always open) heart’. ‘He (Jesus) became what we are, that He might make us what He is.’ Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373AD)