Love with us

At Christmas, we refer often to "Emmanuel," the prophetic name for Jesus meaning, "God with us."

It's a profound concept, this incarnation of God in the world. Divinity and humanity fully united. Theologians have spent centuries exploring this mysterious union. Wonder, awe, and joy are likely responses to such a blessed truth. Our Christmas celebrations will no doubt honor Emmanuel in many ways this week.

Yet if you're like me, there is also a December dissonance that comes with celebrating our lofty beliefs in the incarnation. We look around in the world and see much violence and conflict, sickness and disease, sin and brokenness. Self-doubts can creep into our consciousness as we recognize our own failures. There are times that the good news of Christmas is better framed as a question: God with us?

But then we encounter the Nativity narrative and should take heart. Just when you'd expect God's perfect revelation to be perfectly revealed, you get this:
  • Mary – pregnant teenager
  • Joseph – typical Jewish man
  • Zechariah – average priest 
  • Elizabeth – barren, “well along in years”
  • Shepherds – low social standing, rough around the edges, violent even
  • Wise men – pagans, non-Jewish religious folks
  • Herod – a mad king
The grandeur of God’s love incarnate is revealed in the messiness of everyday life, the type of messiness we know all to well ourselves. Other-worldly ideas exist in a down-to-earth reality. God’s love isn't “out there” bound by abstract caricatures of how the supreme powerful creator of the world can and should act. Just when we think the world is beyond God, God reaches beyond our expectations into the world. 

In the Nativity, we get love in its fullest sense:
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

And the good news of Christmas is this: love with us!

I'm taking a year-end blogging break - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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