Emanu-El: God With Us

They met Him

in places odd,

at unexpected times—

in the morning coolness of a perfect garden,

at an altar built by brothers,

in the building of an ark,

beneath a tree by Abraham’s tent,

in big time angel wrestling,

in the voice of an ass,

in a burning bush,

from a witch at Endor,

in a midnight cry to a sleeping child,

while tending sheep,

in battle with Goliath,

in Mount Carmel’s fiery rain,

in the silence of a desert cave,

behind the sarcophagus of good King Uzziah,

at prayer in a lion’s den,

pinching fruit in an orchard,

in the belly of a great fish,

from a death-defying queen,

in the midst of a flaming furnace,

in a miry prison pit,

in the lowly stable,

beside the Sea of Galilee,

in Gethsemene’s midnight darkness,

on a wooden cross,

at the mouth of an empty tomb,

on the dusty road to Emmaus,

in tongues of fire,

on Damascus’s desert road,

in lonely exile on Patmos.

For me, in FoodMaxx.

For Reflection

  1. Were you surprised by the ending? Why or why not?

  2. Have you ever encountered God in a surprising place or in a surprising manner? If so, where or how?


Idea for Worship

Consider using this poem in worship. A few weeks before, ask your congregation to have their camera at the ready to take pictures of where they encounter God or where they see the Holy Spirit at work around them. Ask for digital copies of their photos. After reading the poem in worship, project the images while your congregation sings or listens to a song about Emmanuel, God with us.

Wayland Jackson is a retired school teacher who lives in Fresno, California. You can find more of his poems/writings at waylandjackson.com.

Reformed Worship 149 © September 2023, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.