"Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God incarnate, here to dwell..."
Dwell. What does that word mean to you? What thoughts does it conjure up? Did you ever notice that unlike any other holiday, Christmas seems to revolve around home, around a 'dwelling'? We sing about it, we decorate them; we spend hours and hours putting up lights and trees, green garland around the fireplace and ornate decorations on the table. We hurry to and from airports to make long-distance trips and pull out roadmaps as we go home for the holidays. We are invited into people's homes and them into ours...
It makes sense that Christmas would be a story that ultimately deals with home. It speaks of how a loving Father looked down on a lost and hopeless world and decided that He - through His precious Son - would leave His heavenly home and come here. And He did.
He removed a heavenly robe and wrapped himself in human skin. He embraced humanity and accepted us so that one day, we might be HOME with Him.
And so often in the midst of our own life circumstances, we can forget that God did just that. That He came. And that He STAYED. In the midst of tragedy, loneliness, loss and confusion, in the midst of a season that can so often magnify the good things but just as easily the negative, we find ourselves asking "God, where are you?" "God, you couldn't possibly understand how I feel or what I'm going through". On the Christian journey we can often stop and ask "How would God act and what would He do if he lived here on Earth?"
Though it is an honest and worthwhile question, the truth is that He HAS lived here...He DOES understand...and when we ask where He is, He replies simply, 'I am HERE, I am Emmanuel'.
God is not distant. Jesus birth was the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah, 'Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.'
Max Lucado describes it brilliantly when He says, "Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth and feel your hurts. Behold the maker of sight and sound as he sneezes, coughs and blows his nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth; that's God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary's table; that's God spilling his milk."
In the midst of a busy and bustling season, filled with places to go and people to see, we can far too often keep God on the fringe of our lives. We can misplace the obvious workings of Him in our daily routines and just as the innkeeper in Bethlehem, make no room in our home.
1 John 4.13 states that when we love God, '...we dwell in Him and Him in us...' We don't have to wait in wonder of what God would do if He were amongst us...He IS amongst us. Christ in you, Christ WITH you, the hope of Glory.
May you look to your own home this year, embrace time with family, reach out to your neighbours and remember why God sent His only Son to dwell amongst us. He will never leave you and never forsake you.
Emmanuel. '...I am with you always.' Matthew 28:20.
Wishing you and your family the most wonderful Christmas,