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My Favorite Christmas Word

What is your favorite Christmas word? 


You know the one that stirs you deeply when you hear it. Maybe it's "Family", and it causes you to think about all the special memories with your loved ones over the years. Or possibly it's "Joy" or "Peace", the words that the angels used to announce Jesus' arrival. Or maybe you're hardcore and like the theologically deep "Incarnation".

If you asked my kids (and probably most kids), they'd likely say "Presents". Which is a pretty good word. I like presents as well. But, if I had to choose just one word out of all the "Christmasy" words, I'd choose...

Emmanuel


I know, I know, you think I'm weird - and you're right - but here me out on this one. Let's go back to the beginning... the real beginning.

There they were in Hawaii (that's what I envision the Garden of Eden to look like), running around enjoying fresh coconut and pineapple beverages and the best seafood you can imagine. Life was a perpetual Luau - so to speak. But beyond the ocean breezes and warm sunny days, what made this time special was who was there with them. It was the Lord. I don't think the day he called out to them, after they had eaten the forbidden fruit (which just might have been pineapple), was the first time he had walked there in the cool of the day. No. While the account in Genesis doesn't give us many details of this time, the balance of scripture tells us clearly that the creator loves his creation and wants nothing more that to be with it. And he was.

I'm sure you know the story. They disobeyed, received their punishment, which sadly included separation. Mankind was not made for this. We were made to be dependent creatures. Dependent on provision from one greater than ourselves and created for community and relationship. We were not meant to be alone. Not from each other and definitely not from our Lord.

God knew this and did not sit idly by. No, he had already laid plans to overcome this chasm that our sin had created. He patiently and faithfully executed those plans. Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, Daniel and others experienced part of this long term restoration. They experienced glimpses, clues of who God was and what was to happen. They and their generations lived and died, waiting.


Waiting for the "Advent" (another good Christmas word), or coming, of the Lord. Waiting for him to be with us again, permanently. That's what "Emmanuel" means. "God with us". Can there be anything more beautiful than that? To have him along side us. To be reconciled, together and restored.

That's what Christmas is truly about. More than just a cute baby in a trough. More than gifts, or shepherds or stars.

On the night before Jesus was crucified, he encouraged his disciples by telling them that through his life, death and resurrection and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, they (we) would no longer be alone. And while we are still waiting for the ultimate consummation of this reality (when we all get to be together with the Lord in Hawaii again), we are able to live out our days now in the "good news of great joy". A savior has come!

God is with us! Emmanuel!