O Come, O Come Emmanuel by The Piano Guys (one of whom seems to play a cello). This is one of my favourite Christmas songs. Sufjan Stevens sings a beautiful arrangement of it on his album of Christmas songs, “Noel”.

“Emmanuel” means “God is with us” in both the sense that God is on our side, but also that God is beside us or among us. God is immanent.

We say this quite a lot in my tradition, but many days I can feel quite far from God, quite alone. Perhaps you’re the same way. On days like that, this soft pleading for God to be with me – not necessarily to fix things or make it all easy, but to be with me in the struggle – really resonates.

The season of Advent, which winds up over the next few days ending on Christmas Eve, is the ritualisation of our yearning for God to be with us. Closer to me than I am to myself, Augustine wrote.

Christmas ritualises the wonder of realising that the Divine is already a gift fully given. After all that drama and trouble, there it is. Just perfect. As though it’s been there all the time.

Please treasure these final days of Advent. I hope your spiritual practice has thrived. I hope you find yourself just as accompanied over these holidays as you wish to be. I pray upon you God’s peace.

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