What if the angels came to the shepherds and announced that they brought good news of great joy–Jesus has moved from one side of heaven to the other? What if the good news was simply to state that God is still on his throne with an encouragement for those below to press on? No intervention promised…. No hope for something better….
If that was the Christmas story, then it would be, I am convinced, a pretty pathetic tale. Maybe this story would elicit frustration or even a shaking, clenched fist as the helpless stood begging for His intervention. With arms raised the shepherds and wise men could have cried out, “where are you?” Ultimately, plodding along or suffering silently would be the best anyone could have hoped. But, thankfully, that is not the Christmas story.
We celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. The king of kings took the form of a helpless baby. His parents would wrap him in a blanket to keep him warm, feed him, and follow The Father’s direction to keep him away from murderous soldiers. Leaving heaven, he was born into humility. His need as a child for others to intervene on his behalf is apparent. Yet to a much greater extent at that time and still today, we need him–desperately. Still, we celebrate Emmanuel. We have hope and direction because he is God with us.
Over the past several days I have been approached on a couple of occasions by people with tear-soaked eyes. Desperate. Deep concerns visible in their faces, the weight of the world pressing on them, they cried out for help.
During this same period, we have experienced a number of physical ailments in our immediate and extended family ranging from minor to life-threatening. I have been to the doctor more in the last 7 days than in the past several years.
We have family and friends that have recently lost jobs and are trying to figure out how to pay the bills. Another relative continues in a job with a company that has just declared bankruptcy.
A broken people, we live in a broken world. But, we celebrate the Truth of Christmas–the Christ. We press on because of his presence among us. At times we carry on with our hearts filled with hope. At other times we struggle to take one more step while anxious or even desperate to see the smallest glimpse of his salvation for us. All the time we are sent to follow in the steps of Emmanuel. We celebrate God with us.