“God with us”
Well, friends, we are deep into the Christmas rush.
Christmas trees have been up in stores since well before Halloween. Neighborhood homes have been decorated since the middle of November. Carols have been playing for weeks. All the signs are there. We have rushed, headlong, into the frantic season Christmas has become. I still love to hear my parents tell stories about Christmases past when one gift meant more than 100 today … when there was a cozy, warm little home with a cold upstairs … when an orange in one’s Christmas stocking was cause for excitement. It seemed to me that was the way Christmas “ought” to be. And yet, as I have gotten older, I have finally come to realize that Christmas has never been ‘as it ought to be’. I’ve never gone into the woods to cut down a tree or glided over the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh. I’ve never had a Christmas where there weren’t mobs of noisy people and over-filled schedules and an embarrassing number of presents under the tree.
That is the Christmas I know. That is the reality of Christmas, 2014.
Listen to these words from Matthew:
“And you shall call his name Emmanuel (which means “God with us”).” Mt. 1:23
“God with us.”
Did you hear that? In this frantic, busy, noisy Christmas of 2014, God is still “with us”.
Not “with us” in a far away place and some long ago year,
Not “with us” in some future unknown time,
But “with us” – now and here – in December, 2014.
God is still with us.
You see, the tinsel, the eggnog, the football games, the gag gifts, the parties, and all the rest are what God has to work with in this modern-day Christmas. The hungers, the heartaches, the losses, the joys, the anticipations, the sadness and pain, are also what God has to work with this Christmas. As Frederick Beuchner says, “The world speaks of holy things in the only language it knows, which is a worldly language.” Because that’s where God is – “with us” in the worldly midst of it all.
“God with us” …
… in the $1.1 million we have given to Imagine No Malaria;
… in the countless food baskets churches have prepared for the hungry in their communities;
… in the Christmas pageants with bath-robed shepherds and tinsel-haloed angels;
… in the noise of parties – and in the quiet of a candlelight Christmas Eve service.
Now, that’s the Good News! And that’s a Christmas gift worth sharing!
God is with us. Yesterday. Today. Forever. We are not alone.
Dear friends, it is my prayer that your Advent be filled with all that means Christmas to you. So that, when Christmas morning arrives, you may celebrate with deep joy the coming of the Christ Child … a joy and peace that will carry you into the days beyond Christmas with the certainty that God is truly “with us” – now and forever.
Thanks be to God!
Blessings and peace,