This is the glorious message of Christmas, and it is in line with what we read in the Gospel of Matthew: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet Isaiah – ”Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be ‘Emmanuel,’ which means God is with us” (Matthew 1: 22-23).
That’s Christmas! At Christmas, we celebrate the birth our Lord Jesus Christ, the One whose name, in addition to Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – is Emmanuel or God with us. It is a name that speaks to a God who, instead of keeping his distance, comes close, very close, in Jesus Christ, and thereby comes close to us!
Charles Wesley, the prolific hymn writer of Methodism rose to his greatest height of creativity in expressing this message when he wrote these words:
Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Long-desired, beyond him come, Finding here his humble home.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, Hail the Incarnate Deity!
Pleased as men with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark the herald angels sing! Glory to the newborn King!
Instead of keeping at a distance, God has come to dwell with us in the form of a baby – the Word made flesh in Jesus (John 1:5).
During these days of Christmas as we move into 2021, how may we cherish God's closeness, even while many are physically distant? How may we celebrate God's presence with us in a world that seems far from God? May we discover that God's grace is closer to us than we might have imagined!
Pastor Andy Kinsey