Blogmas Day 23: Immanuel, God With Us (Guest Blog!)

For Blogmas Day 23, I'm featuring a beautifully written guest blog, by my very own brother, Keaton! I know you'll love this one...

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While reading, listen to Prince of Heaven by Hillsong Worship.

Confession: I enjoy the anticipation leading up to Christmas just as much as its arrival...if not more.

I love the Christmas music, putting up the lights, and counting down each day. I relish in the details, like watching Christmas movies, picking out an ugly Christmas sweater, and consuming an obscene amount of peppermint mochas. This season for me combines the best of remembrance and anticipation. My siblings always joke that I am the “King of nostalgic moments" and they’re not wrong. I live for traditions, especially the long-loved ones, and Christmas is full of them!

There is one I am most fond of, one we’ve enjoyed as a family for as long as I can remember. Every year, early on Christmas morning, amidst all the unwrapped pairs of socks and Reese’s peanut butter cups gifted to us from Santa, my Dad would gather us around a fire, and open his Bible to the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2.

Hot cocoa in hand, we would listen, as our hero read aloud the story of Immanuel, of Jesus born in a manger, the Hope of the world. Year after year, the climax of remembrance and anticipation, the fulfillment of God's promise in Jesus, was spoken in the quiet peace of our living room.

Even at 22 years old, hearing that story brings me back to my 5 year old self, leaned up against one of my siblings, as if I am hearing it for the first time.

Christmas has a way of transporting us back to childhood, and reconnecting us to treasured memories. This remembrance, this anticipation, this excitement -- it reminds me we are all still children in awe of exciting stories. Childhood is one thing we all have in common and the hope of God is that it’s not simply a story we read on Christmas morning, it is OUR story.

God choosing to be in the midst of us as a child, is not simply a moment of nostalgia to recall, or a tradition to appreciate, it is a part of our powerful play taking place...the ultimate act that centers our hearts every year on December 25th and what matters most.

The reality of Jesus' arrival and presence in our lives changes EVERYTHING.

It is as if the world’s greatest playwright decided to take the stage as the leading role, because he knew no one else could play the part. Christmas is not merely a truth about Jesus, it is a truth about us as well! Christmas is not a spectator sport. It is an invitation to be a part of this play, this unfolding of God’s story! In the words of Walt Whitman, “The powerful play goes on, and you contribute a verse...what will your verse be?”

Just as hope was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, Christmas in 2017 invites hope to be born in us as well, so that we can be people and communities that live out 2018 with grace and truth in the verses we contribute.  

Why does Immanuel, God with us, matter?

In a year full of anguish and division, celebration and joy, loss and life, a baby in a manger declares that God is the embodiment of remembrance and anticipation -- he is HOPE. In our ordinary and extraordinary moments, Immanuel reminds us that God is present in our suffering. Because of Immanuel, there is hope that light penetrates the darkness of our despair.

His grace is one that will not let us go, his grace rebuilds from the rubble. Our great Playwright chose the humblest of roles: a baby. This is the form love took - for you and for me. This is our hope. So whatever your 2017 looked like, I pray you would know this: hope is seen in a God of sovereign love that will keep working in the midst of all our messes as we look to Him. He will meet us in our sorrow, and turn it into joy.

We take ahold of this joy, because unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the weight all our lives is carried on His shoulders. In remembrance of all that God has done in our lives, and in anticipation for what is to come, I am thankful that Jesus took the stage and embodied these truths:

Worry does not have the final word - Peace does.

Pain does not have the final word - Grace does.

Division does not have the final word - Unity does.

Death does not have the final word - Life does.

As we await and anticipate Christmas, may we be like children again, who believe that hope is our story’s beginning and end. This Hope, this God, is making ALL THINGS NEW.

Merry Christmas!
Keaton

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Find more from Keaton over on Instagram and his new blog!

Victoria Sowell2 Comments