Summary: On Christmas Day, we celebrate the incarnation of God. Emmanuel--God with Us--God has taken on our humanity and become one of us. God broke into our world on that first Christmas and God conttinues to do that every day of our lives.
All the presents have been placed around the Christmas tree. They have probably also been opened, by now. The stockings, which were hung with care and expectation, have been filled. We have proof positive evidence that Santa has visited our homes.
That isn’t all that has happened. God has taken on our humanness and Jesus the Christ has been born. We celebrate not only the multitude of presents that we have received, but also the presence of God in our world and in our lives. As John recorded in his gospel, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 (quickview) ).
GOD’S PRESENCE—AN ACT OF LOVE
Later in his gospel, John writes that the birth of Jesus was an act of love—“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16 (quickview) ). We all know how important presence is in communicating love.
God had expressed God’s love to humankind before. God had inspired people to write the various books of the Bible. God had also send prophets, his personal messengers, to proclaim God’s love to the people. This wasn’t enough. God knew that only God’s presence would adequately communicate God’s love.
We strive to “be there” for those we love. Parents mold their schedules around soccer and baseball games, band programs and dance recitals, karate tournaments and chess matches in order to be there for their children and express their love and support. We are overwhelmed with get when we are forced to confess that, “We can’t make it,” or someone accuses us that, “We weren’t there for them.”
God is here for us. God is present. We celebrate this truth this day in the birth of Jesus the Christ.
GOD’S PRESENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL
God is not satisfied being a spectator in our lives and merely showing up for all of our events and activities. God wants to have a close, vital relationship with us. John writes, “Yet, to all who received him, to those who believed, in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
We long for our presence to deepen our relationship with others. Parents don’t simply want to be chauffeurs and cheerleaders. Our gifts a Christmas are meant to be more than making us sources of things—deep pockets or Daddy Warbucks. We want our gifts not only to express our love to another person, but also to enrich our relationship with that person.
God invites us to see him as our parent and to call him Father. God longs for us to allow God to call us his children. Because of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, we are able to boldly approach God as our Father, in just the same manner as a child runs up to his or her parent with a request or a need. When teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus said, “Pray then like this, Our Father.”
THE STRUGGLE OF COMMITMENT
As much as we long for God to be present in our lives, we struggle with allowing God to get too close to us. John records in his gospel these sad words, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Most of Bethlehem didn’t know what had happened on the first Christmas morning, and King Herod tried to kill him.