I hope you all are having a meaningful Advent season. I’ve always felt that the holidays magnify whatever state we’re already in. If we’re in love, the season strings lights around our romances; If we’re lonely or hurting, those same lights seem to cast a glaring beam on our ache. And if we’re somewhere in the bell curve of general humanity, we probably have both excitement and longing that are simultaneously being magnified. It is perhaps for this reason that no other name means more to me at Christmas than the name Immanuel, God with us.
This is where I’ve been sitting in the mornings and evenings, contemplating and communing with this God With Us. My tree looked more charming in the lot than it did when I finally steadied it upright next to my fireplace, which isn’t working right now by the way. My chimney is leaking among other problems like it being almost ninety years-old. But the tree and the leaking chimney with the stockings hanging from the mantle will do, because they remind me of Jesus having come.
Consider the significance of having come.
God did not wave a wand or sweep His right arm across the sky or condemn from afar when He could have. Instead, He sent His Son to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). I sat by this tree last night and this morning, recounting not just my sins but my sinfulness. (David, the Psalmist, the King on whose throne Jesus would eventually reign, claimed in Psalm 51 that he was sinful since birth.) I’m not talking about berating myself at Christmastime, rather I’m just a little more aware of what’s wrong with me, or what’s not right with me, and how much I need a Savior.
I’m aware that in this life we can be as excited and crackling with happiness as cranberries on a skillet, and in the very same day we can wound with our words, jealousy can tackle us from behind and we can be faint with longing. In either state we need a Savior. And so Jesus came. God with us. Not God far away, not God from a distance, not God as one of many. But Immanuel.
My prayer for you and me this Christmas is that we would relish His nearness. Our sins have been forgiven, joyful all ye nations rise. He mends the brokenhearted, O come let us adore Him. He brings His blessings into our broken relationships, far as the curse is found. He frees those in bondage, chains shall He break. Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
I am grateful for each one of you and look forward to seeing many of you on the road in 2016.
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