The Best Christmas Gift Ever – Emmanuel, God With Us

The Best Christmas Gift Ever – Emmanuel, God With Us

During this advent season, the kids and I have been reading the Christmas story in Luke and Matthew over and over again at bedtime.  Shepherds and angels are starting to appear in my dreams – which is exactly what I wanted.  My hope was that we would so immerse ourselves in the wonder of the narrative that we would be transported beyond the familiar words that we can recite almost unthinkingly and be completely caught up in the story.  The hundreds of silent years that had passed since the last echoes of the final Old Testament prophet had finally died away.  The wondering – where is God?  Has He forgotten His people?  The Roman occupation of Israel, the oppression, the misery.  Soldiers where they weren’t wanted.  Taxes that were too heavy and wages that were too light. And too, the deep spiritual hunger that no amount of years of silence could quench – the hunger and longing of the hearts of God’s people for their God.  A Savior had been promised, but He was very long in coming.  The prophecies…were they really true?  Or would it always be like this, and there really was no hope at all?

The hundreds of silent years that had passed since the last echoes of the final Old Testament prophet had finally died away.  The wondering – where is God?  Has He forgotten His people?  The Roman occupation of Israel, the oppression, the misery.  Soldiers where they weren’t wanted.  Taxes that were too heavy and wages that were too light. And too, the deep spiritual hunger that no amount of years of silence could quench – the hunger and longing of the hearts of God’s people for their God.  A Savior had been promised, but He was very long in coming.  The prophecies…were they really true?  Or would it always be like this, and there really was no hope at all?

The Roman occupation of Israel, the oppression, the misery.  Soldiers where they weren’t wanted.  Taxes that were too heavy and wages that were too light. And too, the deep spiritual hunger that no amount of years of silence could quench – the hunger and longing of the hearts of God’s people for their God.  A Savior had been promised, but He was very long in coming.  The prophecies…were they really true?  Or would it always be like this, and there really was no hope at all?

And too, the deep spiritual hunger that no amount of years of silence could quench – the hunger and longing of the hearts of God’s people for their God.  A Savior had been promised, but He was very long in coming.  The prophecies…were they really true?  Or would it always be like this, and there really was no hope at all?

A Savior had been promised, but He was very long in coming.  The prophecies…were they really true?  Or would it always be like this, and there really was no hope at all?

The Best Christmas Gift EverThe long, slow ripening of times, events, governments and ages had finally come to pass, and at a word from God for the long-awaited and masterfully planned series of events was begun.

An aged priest with trembling hands slowly and methodically went about his duties, offering incense behind the veil – his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform this sacred function.  He hardly dared to breathe there in the Most Holy Place.  Then suddenly and heart-stoppingly, Zechariah was not alone – who was this terrifying, brilliant being?  “Your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…”

“Your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…”

My prayer?  Isn’t it a little late for that, Gabriel?  Did you get caught in an angelic traffic jam that lasted – oh – about three decades??  Do you realize how old we are?  That prayer hasn’t been prayed in a long, long time.

But this son – it wasn’t time for him three decades ago.  This son was to be a very special son indeed, and the time for him to make his appearance is now.  Zechariah and Elizabeth had been chosen – they were both upright and obedient in God’s sight – to bring a key player into the world who would prepare the way for the Messiah.  The long delay only made the joy that much greater.

About 6 months later, a young, poor girl from a neighborhood that was never featured on HGTV, was quietly going about her household tasks with a smile on her face – engaged!  Joseph was a fine man, everyone said, and she would do her very best to make a good home for him.  They didn’t have much between them – no one here did – but God would provide..and the hope of the coming Messiah was always with them.  Kneeling and folding laundry and dreaming of the future, her reverie was abruptly ended by the appearance of a large, alarming stranger who spoke troubling words to her.  How could Mary begin to comprehend all that Gabriel’s message contained?  It meant that she alone was chosen out of all humanity – past, present, and future – to bear the Christ Child.  Suddenly her simple dreams of a quiet domestic life with Joseph vanished as she responded in trust, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it

The Best Christmas Gift EverKneeling and folding laundry and dreaming of the future, her reverie was abruptly ended by the appearance of a large, alarming stranger who spoke troubling words to her.  How could Mary begin to comprehend all that Gabriel’s message contained?  It meant that she alone was chosen out of all humanity – past, present, and future – to bear the Christ Child.  Suddenly her simple dreams of a quiet domestic life with Joseph vanished as she responded in trust, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”

Wait…Gabriel…come back!  I forgot to ask you some things!  Will Joseph believe me??  What will my parents say?

Can you imagine the thoughts, like leaves in a hurricane, that must have wildly whirled through her mind?  Then telling Joseph – and the look of disappointment on his face as he turned and walked away.  His mostly sleepless night, tossing and turning, and trying to sort through his anger and disappointment and try to find a way out of this mess that wouldn’t completely ruin poor Mary.  After several hours, he could finally say “poor Mary”, for her choice had indeed sealed her fate and now she was to be pitied.  Finally, exhausted, he drifted off to sleep.  When he woke, the impression of his angelic dream was so strongly upon him – could it actually be true?? – that his course of action was totally changed.  He began to hear wedding bells.

Finally, exhausted, he drifted off to sleep.  When he woke, the impression of his angelic dream was so strongly upon him – could it actually be true?? – that his course of action was totally changed.  He began to hear wedding bells.

Finally, after many months that contained more highs (the visit to Cousin Elizabeth) and lows (the disbelief of those who though she was just plain crazy) than a Ferris wheel, she felt her time had arrived.  Only WHY HERE?  So far from home – this is not how she planned it!  The midwife isn’t here, her mother isn’t here – only kind Joseph trying desperately to do the impossible – to make a woman in labor comfortable on a pile of straw.  Dear God, is this how it was supposed to be??

The Best Christmas Gift EverOutside Bethlehem, in the cold and dark of the starry night, simple shepherds sat together on the grass, scanning the horizon for predators as their sheep rested.  Clueless to the timeless drama being enacted so near their quiet hillside, they ate their bread and cheese and talked – perhaps of the coming Messiah – through the long hours while young, scared Mary labored through the night.  A final scream and

A final scream and push and the sky is ripped open by a choir of angels blazing a path of glory from Heaven to that hillside – God’s royal baby announcement.  HE IS HERE!!  Dropping their hunks of bread and cringing on the grass before such stunning awesomeness, the shepherds, who had been watching, saw more than they were ever expecting to see.

HE IS HERE!!  Dropping their hunks of bread and cringing on the grass before such stunning awesomeness, the shepherds, who had been watching, saw more than they were ever expecting to see.

Dropping their hunks of bread and cringing on the grass before such stunning awesomeness, the shepherds, who had been watching, saw more than they were ever expecting to see.

Back to the now quiet stable, and Joseph again tries to make Mary comfortable.  The alarmed donkeys and cow go back to their peaceful munching, now that things have calmed down again.  Baby Jesus, tenderly wrapped against the cold, nurses, and Mary is content. Oh, the wonder of newborn life – but THIS life – it can only be summed up in one beautiful word: Emmanuel.  God with us. He is here.

Please don’t let this season rush past without drinking in the beauty of this story.  It is for you that He came.

A blessed and Merry Christmas to you with love!

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Published byChristine

Christine is so glad you have joined her on The Beautiful Journey! She is a Bible study writer and teacher living in Texas with her husband, 2 children, and all their pets. Christine believes with all her heart that you can live the full, high-impact, joyful life God designed for you, right now. That beautiful journey begins inside you and doesn't depend on your circumstances. She would love to have you join her on the journey!

3 Comments

  • Rosalyn phillips

    December 25, 2015 at 5:52 am Reply

    You have the gift of writing!!!! I could vividly see it all, thanks for bringing the beauty of the birth of Christ to life for he is the reason for the season!!!

  • Lori Miller

    December 22, 2015 at 5:37 pm Reply

    Thank you Christine. A joyous and blessed Christmas to all.

  • Teresa Fourroux

    December 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm Reply

    Awesome

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