“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”Isaiah 7:14
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8.37-39
Christmas is a time of giving. For many, Christmas has become a time to cherish because of the material gifts. And with the focus on our materialism comes depression, stress, anger and the like. What if there was something more to Christmas? What if we truly celebrated humanity’s greatest gift, Immanuel?
In my heart I do hope to celebrate God with us, but to be real, I have to admit that checking out of the whole “faith” thing does not sound so bad sometimes. Not only do I have the stress of life, but all this talk of seeking the lost, loving the other, and becoming peace is tiresome. The Christian faith is, well quite honestly, it is difficult and sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to tap out instead of pressing on.
To love the other is not always my first thought and this is why I am thankful for the mercy and grace of the Lord our God. I am thankful that I can come before Him and have an honest conversation where I can admit my troubles. I can cry with Him, laugh with Him, yell at Him, and gasp over how crazy it is that He wants to use me. Then in the silence of the moment He softly whispers how He wants me to become peace for those in my life (both friends and enemies alike).
Wanting to live out the Christmas miracle today and tomorrow does not completely erase the fact that daily we continue to feel the stress of life. The constraints of time – practice schedules, work schedules, homework, friends, family – everything and everyone seem to suffocate the life that once lived freely. The realities of life so often drown out the fact that “To you the Messiah is born. For you the Love of God is poured out.” This is God’s gift to us.
Hear this, no matter what life brings into your path –the struggles, turmoil or pain you are wrestling with or have wrestled with – you will not be overcome. However great your distress nothing can separate you from the One True God. Because God has sought us out and enveloped us in His love, nothing, absolute nothing can separate us from His love. Our lives overcome turmoil, trouble, and tough times through the truth of Immanuel. God with us means we with God.
The Christmas miracle should be a reminder to us that, indeed, a life of faith will be difficult. There will be times of exile, days of darkness, and periods of pain. But what it also reminds us of is the fact that because of God’s overwhelming and magnificent love, we are more than conquerors. And as we are overcome by His love and living securely in His greatness, we can go forward and participate with Christ in His ministry of reconciliation. In Christ, we can become peace and love for the world. This is the Christmas message!