Christmas is a yearly struggle for me for a lot of reasons. For the past several years, I have found a way to way to reduce that struggle by focusing on some aspect of the Christmas narrative that captures the true essence and meaning of Christmas.
This year, I have been completely captivated by the telling of the Christmas story in a single word.
It’s a simple word, consisting of four letters. It’s not a profane word, but it is a common word. You and I use this word in our everyday speech.
Are you ready for the word?
And the context of this word?
God’s name, from Matthew 1:23: Emmanuel, God WITH us.
Stop and meditate on this for a bit.
The same God who created the universe now enters His creation.
- The Incarnate takes on flesh, bone, and blood
- The Immortal enters time and space.
- The King becomes a pauper.
- The One hoped-for becomes the living hope for all humanity.
As one author has said,
“In this season of Advent, presence is the central move of God.”
The focal point, the theme of God’s sixty-six love letters to us, what we know as the Bible, is none other than Emmanuel, God with us.
- Not just ancient history
- Not just a future promise and a hope
- But also a present living Reality here in our midst
John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Here is a poem that describes this amazing event of Emmanuel, God With Us:
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
-Madeleine L’Engle, from The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle
To love someone is to be in their presence, to be with them, and allow ourselves to be loved and be present with them in return.
As you step through the rest of this Christmas season, may your hearts be captivated by the “with-ness” of Emmanuel, God with us, our Living Reality.
May you carve out some time to experience and enjoy the warm embrace of Christ with you.