Another Christmas approaches. I don't know about you, but for me as I've gotten older it becomes harder and harder to enjoy the simplicity and Divine mystery of what Christmas is supposed to mean. Every year I find myself busy with buying presents, figuring out our budget, reconnecting with old friends...in all of this I find myself anticipating the END of Christmas, not the celebration of Christmas itself.
A single word, however, has caught my imagination and heart this season as I get ready to celebrate my 53rd Christmas. The word is Immanuel. The word is found in Matthew 1:23:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
God with us. Those three words describing what the one word Immanuel means has touched my heart in a place I think needed to be touched. It reminds me we have a Creator who is not distant, uncaring, remote--but One who on that first Christmas entered our world in the form of a baby--to let us know He is WITH US. He is FOR US. HE CARES FOR US.
In our increasingly cynical and divided culture, we need the unifying encouragment that this true message of Christmas brings - God is crazy about us--enough so He became one of us in His son Jesus - to rescue us and show us what the human life is supposed to mean - a life of love, service, sacrifice, community - and hope.
Goodness. We need hope.
And we need to be inspired by this hope-this example of BEING with those you love - and with those who may not love you back. May we this Christmas look for ways to be little Immanuels to the grieving, the hurting, the lonely. May we get out of our own little selfish worlds and look for ways to enter the world of others - reflecting the light and love of the One who most marvelously embodied sacrificial grace to us.
Immanuel. God is with us.
Always and forever.