EMMANUEL - GOD With Us

For 4 weeks we have been preparing, waiting, anticipating. Now it is Christmas!

Advent, like Mary’s pregnancy, gave time for anticipation to grow within us as we waited for the birth of Jesus. God in the flesh – the Word of God in human form – is come! Emmanuel - God is with us. Though often sentimentalized, the Nativity of Christ tells us that God comes to us, not in pomp and triumphant circumstance, but in the earthy messiness of an animal’s stall. God chooses to reveal God’s self in the lowly, humble, not-so-neat-and-tidy circumstances of life.
This is indeed good news for us today, living in the world as it is. That God should come into the world as it is, and come to be with us in whatever our circumstances, is definitely good news. In the feast of the Incarnation, we celebrate Jesus’ birth, and we anticipate his life, death and resurrection and his coming again. This is the salvation story for all of creation. No wonder Christmas is a feast! And it goes on for 12 days!

If our 4 weeks of preparing have left us exhausted and weary by the time Christmas day arrives, we can find hope in the truth that, as Kathleen Norris writes, “it is precisely because we are weary, and poor in spirit, that God can touch us with hope. This is not an easy truth. It means that we accept our common lot, and take up our share of the cross. It means that we do not gloss over the evils we confront every day, both within ourselves and without.”*  For surely, as we recognize the darkness of evil within us and in the world, we realize our great need of someone to save us. And in that realization, we can celebrate Christmas.

On Christmas day we light the Christ candle in the middle of the Advent wreath – symbolic of God with us, among us, in our midst. Some churches have the regular practice of reading the gospel each Sunday from the middle of the sanctuary; again, symbolic of God with us, among us, in our midst. God is not distant from us. Emmanuel – God is with us.

The light of Christ has been birthed into the darkness – JOY TO THE WORLD!

*Kathleen Norris in God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas.  
ed. Pennoyer, Greg and Gregory Wolfe. Brewster MA: Paraclete Press. 2007.

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