I spend most of December trying to ignore that fact that Christmas is coming…not because I don’t like Christmas, but because it can quickly lose it’s wonder if we start celebrating it at the end of November…I start to get pretty excitable about a week beforehand and am in that state of giggling-like-a-schoolgirl excitement until about 3pm on Boxing Day. Then the fatigue of a last-minute dash for presents on Christmas Eve, combined with a 6am wake up call on Christmas day catches up with me and I decide that doing anything but sleeping is a bad idea.
It’s probably about then that I’ve come down from my two week sugar high (PLEASE buy our office something other than sweets/cakes/chocolate/biscuits/more sweets) and my body is finally giving in to exhaustion.
So, I exaggerate, somewhat. But it sounds like a familiar story. Unless you’re under the age of 10 and then the above hyperbole is Christmas pretty much verbatim.
Christmas is one of the best times of the year for so many reasons – pressies, trees, the annual tour-to-see-the-amazing-houses-lit-up-for-fundraising (check out that photo – pretty amazing huh?!)
But Christmas is so much more than the food-and-present fest that it has become. Don’t get me wrong, I love that part as much as anyone, but that is why I need those reminders to remember that heart of Christmas.
Jesus is Emmanuel.
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel”. Matt 1v23
A miracle baby, prophecied by Isaiah (7v14 – one of 300 prophecies), born to a virgin, – and they will call him Emmanuel.
Emmanuel, literally translated, means God is with us. Not was with us, once, a long time ago for about 33 years, but IS with us! We celebrate Christmas as a reminder that God is with us right here, right now.
Jesus is here, in the very midst of our mess and mayhem. With us in both our joys and our sorrows. He has experienced loss and pain; he has been hated and hurt. He has suffered and cried and been ridiculed. He knows the joys of loving and being loved; knows the loneliness of being ignored and left out.
Jesus chose downward mobility, he chose to step down from the majesty and riches of Heaven into our messy world. Chose not to stay in comfort, but so wanted a relationship with us that He gave up everything in order that relationship would be restored.
He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death…Phil 2 v 5-8
And so, whatever you are feeling right now, Jesus Emmanuel knows. Whatever mess you find yourself in, He knows. Whatever comfort needed, Jesus is with us.
Christmas is a time for celebration of knowing that God is not distant, that He so wants to draw us to Himself that He sent His only son into this world to pursue us, to make a way back for us.
So, enjoy all the presents and food, spend time with friends and family and watch the Queen at 3pm. But also enjoy the presence of the living God, calling us back to His ways, His heart and Life in all it’s fullness.