I didn’t feel like writing yesterday. I was struggling with a pretty bad head cold and I ended up taking a long nap after I got home from the office. News came out yesterday that Scott Weiland was found dead on his tour bus. He was only 48. I do my best to not idolize these guys but I have to be honest when I say that it does depress me to hear about folks with such amazing talent just throw it away. Weiland had a very long (and public) bout with drug addiction so it really isn’t surprising. That doesn’t make it any less sad. I also want to point out that he isn’t any more precious or special than any of the other 46,000 + people who die every year from drugs (legal and illegal). Weiland comes from the same generation that already said goodbye to Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley (to name just two) and you would think that eventually people would come to their senses.
You may wonder what that has to do with the Immanuel in my title. Immanuel is one of the names given to Jesus. It means “God with us” and reminds us that Jesus did come here and live among us. He knows what we all go through. John 1 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible because it talks about the logos (word) of God taking on flesh and walking here among us. Eugene paraphrases it by saying that he became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. I have been told that the original language there is about erecting a tabernacle among us. Yes, he pitched his tent here with us. I like that. He know that we were lost and broken people and the only we could be saved was if he came down here and got dirty with us.
In Luke 4, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah by saying that he came to bring the good news to the poor. He came to give sight to the blind, to release the captive, and to free the oppressed. Isaiah had been prophesying about the Messiah. Jesus read the passage and told those listening that he was the one being spoke of. There are still people who are poor and need good news. There are still people who are blind and need sight. There are still people who are captive and need release. There are still people who are oppressed and need to be set free. Jesus is still the one who can do all those things. He is still Immanuel. He is still God with us. It is true that he has “packed up the tent” and gone home, his Spirit is still with us and still proclaims the good news.
Every time I see another news story about the death and destruction in this world, it reminds me that it is because of such things that Jesus came to the earth in the first place. We need God among us. We need Immanuel.
Grace and peace.