December 24th, 2008


And his name shall be called ... Immanuel (God with us).

The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

All the rushing that we did earlier this season seems to have paid off nicely. For the last couple of days, I've basically done nothing, and I'm almost feeling sane again. (I actually did some work this afternoon, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.) It's nice to be relaxed, for the first time in a really, really long time.

As I was sitting in church this evening, thinking about the wonder that is the Incarnation, I was struck again with awe at the fact that God came down into our world to meet with us. And as I began to feel guilty that it's taken me all of Advent to get to this point, another thought occurred to me.

Immanuel means "God is with us". Old news, to be sure. But God is always with us, whether or not we acknowledge His presence among us.

I think I've occasionally fallen into the trap of feeling that if I didn't acknowledge God's presence, then He can't really be here. And that's preposterous. Granted, my life is a whole lot better when I acknowledge His presence. But He will be there whenever I'm ready to acknowledge Him. And not just on Christmas Day, either.

And yet again, I am struck with the amazing grace of God, who comes into my world, whether or not I acknowledge him. How wonderful it is to know that even when I turn my back on God, He stays there, patiently waiting for me to come back.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Or, as Charles Wesley put it:

And can it be, that I should gain an interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain? For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me!

Merry Christmas, everyone.
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