Emmanuel, God With Us

A star that points the way, strangers bearing exotic gifts, choirs of angelic hosts, and all of the miracles of that first Christmas.

Norman Rockwell paintings featuring feast-laden tables, doting families, and peace and goodwill.

Hallmark movies flaunting perfectly decorated homes, relationship issues that resolve in an hour, and happy endings for all.

Social media highlighting the best of the season of everyone in our friends list. All is merry and bright!

It’s so easy to focus on these elements of the Christmas season. They lure us in with their saccharine-sweet promises of a month of magical moments. We’ve been conditioned to think that this is what Christmas should look like.

But if your Christmas doesn’t fit this picture? What then? Is Christmas still Christmas if none of the gloss and glamour is anywhere to be found?

Lines are long and tempers are short. Travel is exhausting. The extra work of planning and baking and cleaning and hosting can tax the jolliest among us.

Add in strained relationships, addiction, mental health issues, financial woes, ill health, a busy work schedule, loss of a loved one, and everywhere deadlines
and expectations,

Yes, Jesus bears the majestic titles King of Kings!
Lord of Lords!
Prince of Peace!

But he is so much more.

He is God despite us,
God in spite of us,
God for us,
And he is Emmanuel, God with us.

If we look closer, maybe we’ll find that the first Christmas wasn’t as shiny and glossy as we thought.
Family strife and strain
Greedy government

A weary and persecuted people waiting and hoping and watching and praying
A creation groaning

And this? This is the culmination of the promise? This is the big event? This is the one we’ve been waiting for?

A baby born in a manger to a teenager
Covered in bodily fluids
Wrapped in rags
Laid in hay
Next to an ass and some sheep?

Emmanuel, God with us.

So he was called then and so he proved to be. He was there for it all, from the fruit plucked off the tree to his battered body drawing his final breath.

Government oppression

He experienced it all and to depths we probably can’t imagine.

He understands waiting
And betrayal
And disappointment
And longing
And frustration
And fear

He’s familiar with that hollow feeling inside your chest,
the ache,
the tears.
Emmanuel, God with us.

The truth is, if your Christmas is lacking some luster you might be more in line with that first Christmas than you realized. The hurt and the heartbreak was a precursor to the first Christmas so maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that it shows up to some of our Christmases, as well?

He didn’t so much come in a blaze of glory as he did quietly and oh, so humbly. He showed up in the everyday and the mundane, the mess and the heartbreak. So he did then and so he does now.

Emmanuel, God with us.


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