Immanuel, God With Us
"Therefore 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
God understands the power of story and he gave us quite the plot with the Christmas story.
He used a young girl, Mary, from a backwoods town, a virgin who was pregnant (huh'?!) to fulfill the ancient Messianic prophecy from the Jewish scriptures. He had Mary traveling on mule to a town outside of Bethlehem only to find a town with nary a room to be had.
Mary, without the help of a clean bed, let alone an epidural, gave birth in a stable surrounded by animal dung. This was NOT the tidy nativity scene we have living in the kids' room. This was a mess! You would think that God could have arranged for better circumstances.
However, on Christmas morning God gave us a sign about how he feels about us.
He wasn't showing up with the beautiful people, in the lap of luxury. He was going to the messy places. God was coming to us, and he wasn't asking for tidiness. He came to meet us wherever we are and no matter what we've done. He was Immanuel, which means "God WITH us"; Jesus.
In the famous hymn, O Holy Night, I lock in on the lyrics describing when Christ appeared "and the soul felt its worth."
When you're fully loved, you feel valuable. You understand your worth.
That's the message of Christmas. If Jesus was "God with us" then his life should have an impact on ours. We can know that we are truly loved. We can know that our worth isn't based on how good we are, but on how much we are loved.
Last week my husband gave a great talk on this topic. You can watch it here. (Silent Night)
If you've got a little more time and want to see a full Christmas service, I highly recommend the message from this week's service here (Click Merry Christmas).
May you have a "thrill of hope" and rejoice in the birth of Immanuel.