Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas time.
The traditions.
Decorations.
Music.
Parties.
Even the gift buying.
It’s a joyful time.
Every year, the day after Christmas, I purchase the next year’s holiday clothing for my grandkids and look forward to handing them out at Thanksgiving.  They are still young enough to let me pick out something for them to wear. Kate and Haddie are beginning to express personal opinions about clothing however but here they are frolicking happily in the dresses they received.
So fun.
Christmas feels precious to me this year.  More so than previously. I think it’s because my perspective is changing. This year, as I ponder the familiar biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus, I am seeing it in a different light.  I am seeing Jesus as Immanuel-  God WITH us.

“He will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.  All this took place to fulfill what the LORD had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Matthew 1:21-23)

Immanuel is an amazing word – It’s three words put together into one: “GOD WITH US”. This speaks deeply to my heart.

What a gift.  Not only did Jesus come to earth as our Savior but He came to be with us and His spirit remains with us forever.

You know him, for he dwells WITH you and will be IN you.” (John 14: 15-17)

No matter what our circumstances may be, God’s presence is WITH us in the midst of them.  Stressful pressures of life may come and even threaten to pull us down, but we have an inner strength to draw on – Christ in us – that can breathe life and strength into our inner being at all times.
This is the sense of Christmas I want my grandkids to gain.  If they truly comprehend the magnitude of what it means to have GOD WITH US, then His presence will invade, and change, every part of their lives.

I recently picked up my copy of “The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.

These words in Book Three: Chapter One blessed me and I pray they do the same for you:

Of the inward voice of Christ to the faithful soul I will hearken what the Lord God shall say within me.
Blessed is the soul which heareth the Lord speaking within it, and receiveth the word of consolation from His mouth.
Blessed are the ears which receive the echoes of the soft whisper of God, and turn not aside to the whisperings of this world.
Blessed truly are the ears which listen not to the voice that soundeth without, but to that which teacheth truth inwardly.
Blessed are the eyes which are closed to things without, but are fixed upon things within.
Blessed are they who search inward things and study to prepare themselves more and more by daily exercises for the receiving of heavenly mysteries.
Blessed are they who long to have leisure for God, and free themselves from every hindrance of the world. Think on these things, O my soul, and shut the doors of thy carnal desires, so mayest thou hear what the Lord God will say within thee.

Lord, may our ears be attentive, first and foremost to Your Voice. In this Christmas season, may we find leisure time with You and in Your presence be freed from that which hinders us from the outside.  We are profoundly grateful that you are a God who is not only for us but is WITH us.