Friday, December 25, 2015

Emmanuel (God With Us)

It's past midnight on Christmas Eve and I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas staring at the lights on our tree. I'd like for you to think that today (and the days leading up to it) have been full of reflection and meditation on Christ and His birth... but it has sadly been busy-ness as usual again this year. *sigh.

I bought a beautiful devotional that has touched my heart... the handful of days I've found the time to read it. And I have looked forward to being home for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but after traveling 6 hours today I've had little time to enjoy it. Right now, in the wee hours of Christmas morning, I've found the first few minutes to truly slow down and set my heart on Christmas. And once again this year, I realize just how much we need Jesus to come.

I turn on the TV and hear about bombings in Paris and shootings in California and I realize, we need Jesus.

I scan my Facebook newsfeed and it only takes a few minutes to be overwhelmed by posts full of anger, hatred and fear. We need Jesus.

I read tragedy after tragedy of mommies and daddies taken away from babies much too soon and my heart cries out for Jesus.

I feel the frustration well up when I hear my friend Kayla (who is battling cancer herself) share about another little boy who lost his fight and I know... we need Jesus.

I weep with a group of fellow mothers who ache for their adopted children to be home in their arms, and I think about how much we need Jesus.

I look into the face of poverty and injustice again and again and as much as I try to help - so many days I feel helpless. It's much too big for me... I need Jesus.

If there is one resounding line in my heart this Christmas it is this...

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

It's true the world desperately needed Jesus to come as a baby on that blessed night 2000 years ago... but the truth is, we desperately need him to come too. Today, and every day... we need Him to come in our hearts.

We don't just need a Teacher, a Savior, or a King. We need Emmanuel. GOD WITH US.

We need a God who is WITH US through cancer. A God who heals and a God who sustains... and a God who leads us to a cure.

We need a God who is WITH US through infertility and adoption... a God who holds our aching hearts and gives us the strength to HOPE.

We need a God who is WITH US as we grieve the loss of those taken too soon, and try to put our broken lives back together.

We need a God who is WITH US, because He is the only one big enough to truly end poverty and injustice in our broken world.

We need a God who is WITH US,  to drive out anger and hatred, and to teach our fearful hearts how to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

And THAT is who He is. He is not just a lowly babe born in a manger. He is more than our Savior King. He is EMMANUEL - which means "God with us". And He is with us, if we will only let Him be.

He willingly came down to our broken world not just to make an appearance, but to truly enter our mess. And then to stay. And stay. And stay no matter how messy it gets. Because He promised to never leave us or forsake us. He promised to stay WITH US.

And more than another sweet story, or sentimental tradition this Christmas, I need to know that God is here, WITH ME, in the midst of my mess. And that He is never going to leave.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel! We beg you! Come Jesus. Come and be with us. We need you.

(I love the lyrics to the original hymn, but these updated lyrics really touched my heart this Christmas.)

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