God With Us

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“With is a completely different way of living where power is diffused and we see others as equals, as friends.”

With.

Years ago I first came into contact with three prepositions that could change the way we viewed living out our faith–to, for, or with.  When it comes to kingdom living, prepositions do matter. Doing things “to” people or “for” people are two of the most familiar ways we intersect with others because they are the safest. We give to others, but never receive. We serve “those people.”

Living out “to” or “for” others keep us more comfortable, protected, with our power and vulnerability protected; they are very paternal or maternal and create oppression and codependence.

With is a completely different way of living where power is diffused and we see others as equals, as friends. We receive as much or more than we give. We are vulnerable. We are human. With relationships are incarnational and transformational, Jesus-in-the-flesh. With relationships heal and restore dignity.

As we enter the season of advent, Jesus-in-the-flesh is on my mind. I love the wild way that God chose to enter the world–a human baby born to unlikely parents, in a dirty stall, in the midst of chaos and simplicity. God, born in a smelly stable to an unwed mother and her faithful fiance. Pagans strangly drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Shepherds, the lowest of the low, getting the news first. God, in the flesh.   Showing us the ways of love and how utterly contrary they are to the ways of the world, to the ways of “religion.”

One of my favorite old school cheesy-but-beautiful worship songs is:  Jesus, Name above all Names. Beautiful Savior, Glorious Lord.  Emmanuel, God is with us.  Blessed Redeemer, Living Word.

Even though it’s not a Christmas carol, every Christmas I start humming it because of my favorite line in the whole song–Emmanuel, God is with us.

Emmanuel, God is with us.

God is with us.

God, with us.

Here are some different words for “with”: accompanying, alongside, amidst, among, beside, by, for, including, near, plus, upon, as companion, side by side, in the thick of.

I love this imagery: 

God accompanying us.

God alongside us.

God amidst us.

God among us.

God beside us.

God by us.

God for us.

God including us.

God near us.

God plus us.

God upon us.

God as companion to us.

God side by side us.

God in the thick of us.

God is always with us. 

 

As God is with us in spirit, we are called to be in-the-flesh with others.

Accompanying others.

Alongside others.

Amidst others.

Beside others.

By others.

For others.

Including others.

Near others.

A companion to others.

Side by side others.

In the thick of others.

God, with us. In the midst of our messy, beautiful lives.

Us, with others. In the midst of their messy, beautiful lives.

“With” is one of my favorite words.

I’m starting to think it might be another word for Christmas.

_______________________

Photo credit:  by ~Brenda-Starr~

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Kathy Escobar
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, an eclectic faith community in North Denver dedicated to those on the margins of life and faith. She blogs regularly about life and faith at www.kathyescobar.com and is the author of Down We Go--Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus in Action. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Jose, and five kids.
Kathy Escobar

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  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    This is so encouraging Kathy. Have you read the book by Skye Jethani called With? I heard him give a sermon on the topic, which inspired the book, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve wanted to for a long time. I love that idea of With instead of To or For.

  • Deb

    Beautiful expression of God incarnate in Christ and Christ’s call for us to love one another! This blesses me, dear friend!

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  • Paul Leader

    Kathy I love this. Thanks for sharing. You are right that word ‘with’ changed everything, and still does. He is still Immanuel in our flesh and blood lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sonika.raj Sonika Raj

    Oh, that codependence is so sneaky…it can arise even from the most well-meaning relationships. That one’s my poison.

    This is a beautiful and challenging reflection, Kathy – thanks for sharing it.

  • http://twitter.com/HeatherCaliri Heather Caliri

    I’m seeing the power of “with” relationships lately to bind me to people different than I am, and to bring reconciliation in the middle of ethnic and class boundaries that ashamed me.

    Your post reminds me of part of St. Patrick’s breastplate prayer:

    “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me…Christ beneath me, Christ above me….”

  • http://teamaidan.wordpress.com/ Heather Bowie

    Wow – the power of a word. The power of THE word. I love this imagery.

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  • http://twitter.com/grace_full_life Amy Hunt

    Brilliant truth!

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    oh, this is an important message! makes me think also how with is one key difference between charity and justice. thankful to walk alongside you, kathy.

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