By Elena Robles, Hunger Advocacy Fellow


“All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him, Emmanuel,’ which means, “God is with us.”- Matthew 1:23

A common tradition in my family – And one that I have been witness to through my travels in America Latina— is that before a driver begins the journey they will whisper a small prayer: Emmanuel. A three-syllable reminder for all in the car that God is amongst us and will keep us safe on our journey. As I’ve grown older and begun to drive and travel alone, Emmanuel  has become my way of being grounded on journeys. A space to be still in the truth that I can be witness to this world without the constraints of this world.

La Ventana Abierta by Juan Gris

Advent is so pivotal as it serves as a space to celebrate the birth of Christ, the recognition of God’s presence among us, and a time to be in deep listening and reflection. A time to see what has passed, to be still and to prepare for the continued journey. This year has been filled with much grief, anger and disappointment in seeing how our world leaders have led, the ways we have upheld structural and physical violence, and how we have been complacent about its effects on our neighbors—locally and globally. I believe that this time can be an opportunity to move beyond what no longer serves us, to whisper Emmanuel :

“Dios se ha inyectado en la historia. Con el nacimiento de Cristo, el reino de Dios ya está inaugurado en el tiempo de los hombres. Desde hace veinte siglos todos los años esta noche recordamos que el reino de Dios ya está en este mundo y que este Cristo ha inaugurado la plenitud de los tiempos. Ya su nacimiento marca que Dios está marchando con los hombres en la historia, que no vamos solos.”- Archbishop Oscar Romero

“With Christ, God has injected himself into history. With the birth of Christ, God’s reign is now inaugurated in human time. On this night, as every year for twenty centuries, we recall that God’s reign is now in this world and that Christ has inaugurated the fullness of time. His birth attests that God is now marching with us in history, that we do not go alone”- Archbishop Oscar Romero

Let us in this truth, be strengthened and led to action. God is with us now –as they have been since the birth of Christ. They have held us, accompanied us in our pain and witnessed our shortcomings. By rooting ourselves deeply in them, we can move towards healing and wholeness.

Now is the time to set intentions for the year ahead that are centered in deepening our faith in God. Emmanuel.

While grief, anger, fear will arise, may we continue to do work that is centered in deep and unconditional love for this world. Emmanuel.  

May the spirit guide us to see and treat each other as sacred and indispensable. Emmanuel.  

May we— through stillness and deep love—act to bring forth a world that has Christ’s spirit woven in; where love, justice, peace and a deep respect for all dignity is upheld. Emmanuel.  


Read more ELCA Advocacy Advent Reflections by visiting