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Emmanuel, God is with Us: Celebrating the Birth of Christ
I count it a privilege and a joy to see individuals, couples and families celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ throughout the world during the month of December. As certain corporations unashamedly and aggressively emphasize the commercialization of Christmas by promoting products to enhance profits with no reference to the one people called the Messiah, as an increasingly secularized culture promotes reindeer and snowmen and mistletoe with little reference to the Light of the World (e.g., Jesus the Christ), as political discourse dominates the news and leaves us with an uncertainly about a challenging but hopeful tomorrow still influenced by God, it is a blessing to see many people embracing the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is still the reason for the season.
Jesus’ birth was announced by the prophet Isaiah thousands of years before his arrival (see Isaiah 9:6). References to the birth of Christ are also mentioned in the first four books of the New Testament. In reference to the birth of Jesus in book of Matthew 1:23, we read: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” We are indeed indebted to those who had the courage to talk about the arrival of Jesus at a time when one could be punished for mentioning his very name.
One may rightful ask: “What does it mean that God is with us during a time in which there appears to be little evidence of or respect for God at all.” Immanuel means that those who are still willing to take a chance with God by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior will be blessed with eternal life (see John 3:16). Immanuel means that the life of Jesus will always be our point of departure for helping people; therefore, we will diligently seek justice for the disempowered, the despised, the disenfranchised and the disrespected people of this world. Immanuel means that our hope in creating the beloved community, our faith in God and our love for God’s children called humanity will continue to occupy our life’s agenda (see 1 Corinthians 13:13).” Immanuel means that we serve a transcendent God who sits high and looks low, but we also serve an immanent God (Jesus the Christ) who will never leave us or forsake us (see Matthew 28:20). Emmanuel, which is another name for Jesus means “God is with us.” Indeed, the prayer embedded in the song titled “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Josh Wilson still stands true: “O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind; Bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be thyself our King of peace, Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel.”