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With us

And His name shall be called Emmanuel.

emmanuel

The Hebrew interpretation is “with us God.”

A God who is with us.  Think about it.  Let it sink down into your soul.  The greatest One with whom there is no comparison or equal wants to be with us.  Us.  Us the created.  The fallen ones.  The sinful.  The reprobates.

It is beyond me to understand this.  And yet it is a primary truth in the Christmas story.  A baby is promised and His name shall be called Emmanuel.

After 400 years of heavenly silence, a word comes.  A word from God.  Though the silence was deafening, He had not forgotten or forsaken His people.  He was sending Someone to be with us.  And that Someone will be small, helpless, defenseless.  He will need someone to care for Him.  Those “someones” will be the reprobates and sinners.

And I ask Mary’s question, “How can this be?”

Only a love beyond measure can explain it.  Even then I am unable to comprehend that kind of love.  My love is no match to it.

The greatest gift of Christmas is the With Us God who came to earth.  He gave us Himself.Christmas-Ribbon-Tree

Let every heart prepare Him room.

Make space for Him.  Unwrap the Gift and behold the glory.  Take the Gift and receive the grace and beauty offered.

The With Us God has come.

 

Holy night

It’s Christmas Eve and Sweet William and I sit quietly in the early morning hours waiting for the dawn. Tree lights twinkle red and green.  Devotions are read.  Coffee cups emptied.  Little dog snores softly in his bed beside us.  All is calm, all is bright.

I ponder Advent and the moments we have been given.  Friends gracing table, shared joys and sorrows, memories and hopes mingled.  Learning to be content with the plenty and the less than. The prayer “Be enough for me, Jesus!” being answered in tender ways.

It is the season for giving gifts, and I will receive the gifts God gives for they are all beautiful though sometimes they melt me. The molding and pressing and changing of a life into something more akin to the Son, my dearest, nearest of kin, it is a painful process.  There is no other way to reflect His light, His love.

Today I relinquish claims to my own will.  Tomorrow I will have to do it again.

He is Lord.  Lord over all.  Lord of my days and my nights.  Lord of my laughter and my tears.  Lord and King benevolent and gracious, always bestowing the gift of Himself.  The greatest present.  His presence.

God with us.

The mystery is revealed and angels gaze in wonder.

The prophecy foretold is fulfilled.  The Promise becomes living, breathing infant.

The Creator surrenders to the constraints of creation.  The Lawgiver comes to fulfill the law.

The very Word of God becomes flesh and lives with us.

The unutterable name of YHVH is wrapped in a blanket and called Yeshua, Jesus.

And thus

The lost is found.  The prodigal gets to go home.

The impure is cleansed.  The sinner is called righteous.

The ugly is redeemed and clothed in beauty.

The war-torn is offered peace beyond understanding.

The orphan is welcomed into the Father’s house and invited to call Him Abba.

It was a holy night.

This day, this time in history, this moment, it is holy still.

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I Need a Silent Night by Amy Grant

Emmanuel

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Emmanuel.  God with us.

Why would He want to be with us?  It’s not because we are such good company.  It couldn’t be our gracious hospitality or our deep humility or our complete unselfishness.  None of that.

The depths of our sin drove us from the Edenic garden and separated us from a holy God who made the world in all it’s beauty just for us.  And we took His gift and desecrated it.

All the while, He had a plan to redeem us back to Himself because He knew the price was too high and we are too poor.  Our attempt at being good enough is just dirty, pitiful, unacceptable.  So He offered Himself an acceptable offering.  Totally pure.  Completely holy.  Innocent as a newborn babe.

He came to us, to be one of us, to be like us.  Subjecting Himself to the frail skin and bone and blood and guts of this sin-ugly life so He could give us the gift of eternal life.  God walking around in flesh.  Among us.  Living like us.  Rubbing shoulders with us.

It is the gift of Christmas.

We can look at that gift and say it’s not for me, not the right size, not what I really wanted.  We can reject the gift and the Giver if we choose.  He gave us that gift also, the gift of choosing Him.  Or not.

But the truth is still the truth, the way, and the light.  He is Emmanuel.  God with us.

He is God with us in our celebrations and joyous events.  He is with us in our longings, our disappointments, our hopes and dreams.

God with us in all our wanderings and our looking for Eden.

God with us in our infections and pain and suffering.

God with us in the hospital surgery unit and the waiting rooms.

God with us in our wondering if life will last one more day.

God with us when we face death squarely and try to do life without the one dearly loved.

God with us in separations and divorce and families broken apart.

God with us in our tears and longings for something different.

God with us in our healing and rebirth and joyful surrender and willing sacrifice.

He brings peace to rule over our chaos.  Counsel to our confusion.  Mighty strength to our weakness.  Everlasting life to replace death.  He invites us to call Him Father. He is Wonderful!  He is Emmanuel.

God with us. Fear not for He brings with Him good tidings of great joy!  He is with us . . .

O come Emmanuel

Of the many names of God given in the Bible, one of my favorites is Emmanuel. We hear it often around Christmas as carols are sung and sermons are preached. Emmanuel is first mentioned in Scripture in Isaiah 7 as a prophecy of the coming Messiah.

We are told what it means in Matthew 1 when he tells us how the prophecy is about to be fulfilled through the lives of Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

“God with us.”

Beth Moore, renowned Bible study teacher and my personal favorite, interprets the Hebrew word Emmanuel as “the with us God.”  And I l like the sound of it.

I remember the stories in the Bible, that God has always wanted a “with us” relationship.

After God delivered the Israelites from the land of Egypt and the controlling hand of the Pharaoh, they came to the mountain called Sinai. It was there that the Lord “came down” to the people, (Exodus 19). There was fire and smoke, and the mountain quaked. It was an awesome event, and the people trembled with fear.

On this day, God essentially told the people to stay away from the mountain as He gave the Ten Commandments to this shabby group of slaves that He chose to call “His people.”  His law demonstrated His holiness, His otherness, and how we would never measure up. 

A few of chapters later in Exodus, God gave Moses the instructions for the Tabernacle in the wilderness with this intriguing commentary:

“Let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” (25:8).

And I wonder why.  Why then, and why now does this holy God want to be close to this pitiful mess of humanity?  I can’t figure it out.

Yet the truth is written all through the Bible from Genesis, when God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden, to Revelations, where the tabernacle of God will forever be with men (21:3)

Amazing. The Master of all creation, the One who spoke all things into existence, the Word that was in the beginning, the Savior who was slain from the foundation of the world chooses to be involved with me.

Emmanuel.  God with me.  God with you. The “with us God.”

I let that sink in.  I want this truth to be a reality in my life.

God wants me to know Him.  He makes Himself known to me through the Bible, through nature, through other people.  He makes Himself accessible to me. He invites me in to His presence, and it is all possible through His very own plan, His very own sacrifice, His very own Son, Jesus Christ.

It is my privilege to get acquainted with this amazing God.

Just the thought of it, God with us, brings comfort like a warm, fleece blanket on a cold night.

He came to us, and He came for us. Though we were without the knowledge of God, He came to rescue us. Like the prince on a white stead comes to rescue the damsel in distress. Like the Cavalry comes to bring relief to weary war-torn soldiers. He came for us.

But not on a strong mighty stallion or with guns and war machines. He came in infant dress, helpless and needing a young woman and her husband to care for Him.

What manner of God is this that makes Himself like me so that I can become like Him?

This year some of us are in a season of “without.” Without a job or good health.  Without a place to live or enough money to pay the bills.  Without those special relationships we long for.  The spouse who died. The divorce that leaves a family torn asunder. The child longed for but not yet come to our home and heart. The family that moved away and will not be coming home for the holidays.

Sometimes the “withouts” in our lives force us to look to the “with us God” who has always been and will always be and is in our present moment of difficulty.

May the Emmanuel, the“with us God,” fill all the empty places and desires in our hearts and lives this day and in the days to come.  For He alone has promised in Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified Bible),

“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down, relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!”

While we sing, “O come, O come Emmanuel,” we must remember that He has come and that He initiates the invitation to be in relationship.  He is the One who says, “Come.”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him . . .”