At one point during the Christmas program, Mary and Joseph hopped up and joined the other students at the edge of the stage to sing. ‘Mary’ left ‘Baby Jesus’ on the bench, where she had kept him propped between her and ‘Joseph’ during the visits from the shepherds and the wise men.
I snapped a photo than quickly switched to video to record the beautiful gift of song. Later, as I went through the photos, I thought about Baby Jesus and all the attention he gets during Advent and Christmas. How we struggle as Christians and parents to keep ‘Christ in Christmas’ and teach our children that the true gift comes from God giving his only Son to live among us and save us from our sins.
But I wonder, how many of us leave the Baby Jesus on the bench when we hop up to sing and celebrate? Do we forget that his name, Immanuel,’ means ‘God with us?’ His advent means that he has come to live among us—to be with us at all times, to help us in each and every trial; to celebrate and sing with us; to hold our hand and whisper words of comfort in our ears.
He didn’t just come as a baby and live a forgotten life. He came as a baby, grew as a child, worked as an adult and prepared for his ministry until his thirties. And then, only then, did he make his purpose known—when the time was right.
Sometimes, we grow impatient with the waiting, with wondering when our purpose in life will make itself known. We wonder and worry. But we shouldn’t. God IS with us. We have to make a conscious effort to make sure WE stay with Him. And the closer we draw to him, the more we understand that Christmas isn’t just about the first Advent.
Once we know the Way, he brings light into our whole lives—not just our December-let’s-get-ready-for-Christmas lives. He brings the light of love and forgiveness into our past (no matter how ashamed of it we may be). He shines his light into our now and promises to guide us and lead us. He shines the light of love into our future. In a world sunken in sin, despair, depravity and violence, he shines his promise like the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
He tells us in John 14:3 “ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” He came once. He left the Holy Spirit to help us in the now. We have the hope of the Second Advent and heaven for the future.
And that, my friend, is the true meaning of Christmas! Past. Present. Future. God with us. Immanuel. (tweet this)