Day 1: The With-Us God

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
— Dr Suess' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Welcome to Day 1 of An Unexpected Christmas. I hope you feel at home here. That no matter what angle you come at Christmas this year, you can absolutely come from there. You could be coming with hot tears of frustration and anger and brokenness. You could be coming with glad tidings of comfort and joy. However it looks, just come. Just show up and read and enjoy.


Immanuel.

That’s quite the Christmas word, isn’t it? You really only hear it or see it during the Holiday season. But what the HECK does it mean?

Don’t worry, I got you. 

Immanuel actually means "God with us." Quite literally The With-Us God.

And that is the whole entire point of Christmas.

There’s this moment in the Christmas story when this word shatters the darkness that the Israelites, for centuries, have been waiting in. They have been hoping and praying and waiting for Someone to break the silence, the darkness, and to bring the hope of rescue.

They have been waiting since one guilty bite was taken in a quaint and lovely and perfect garden. 

Since the world was right and then went horribly wrong.

Since sin flooded the earth and so God flooded it out.

Since Noah landed the ark and hoped for a new start but sin crept back in. 

Since Abraham was told he would be a blessing to every single nation out there but instead of blessing, they blundered.

Since Moses parted a sea, all red and crazy and hoped he would bury all darkness with the Egyptians. 

Since David was made King, but the throne kept getting dirtier and dirtier. 

Since many prophets spoke to God’s people but many people closed their ears.

Since after that there was 400 years of dead silence.

Since it felt like God was gone.

But then this:

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
— Matthew 1:18-25

God with us. 

God didn’t just create the world, set it into motion, and sit back in Heaven to watch us all flounder. Instead He said: "I want to be with you. I want to come to you because you cannot possibly do enough to get to me.”

We could not possibly climb up, so He impossibly came down. 

I find it stunning that we have a King that isn’t just sitting in His comfortable castle crossing His fingers and really hoping we get it right. We can commune with a King in our kitchen, in our mini van, in our angry tears and our belly laughter.

He’s like the proud dad who couldn't just watch us high up in the stands. He couldn't just stand by as we play and laugh and bobble the ball trying to use our heavy bats, clunky cleats and stiff gloves on the field.

He had to do something. So He came down from the bleachers, unexpectedly walked through the gate, and played the game with us. Giving us signals and pats on the back and helping us head for home really well.

Where do you need God with you?  In your Monday morning or your marriage or your messy emotions? In your quiet, constant anxiety? In your depression or your decisions?

I need Him with me in the fatigue and frustration of motherhood. In my insecurity and performance-driven thoughts and in the balance of all my chemicals. In my Advent season, easily piled high with sugar and lists. 

And He. Is. There. In it all.

Before I get there, He's been there. The With-Us King. Thank God.

Dear God, thank you that you came to us. Because we cannot possible do enough to come to a perfect King, you stooped down. You put on skin. You walked the earth, made friends and enemies and lived the life we have on earth. Your knuckles cracked, your joints creaked, you laughed loudly, you enjoyed good food, and your arrival was just like ours, birth canal and all. Thank you for being a With-Us God. When we feel With-Out, help us remember your very name: Immanuel. Amen.