“Momma,” said my little Calah, “follow the moon. It will show us the way home.”
I paused. Because while at first I wanted to laugh but something else quickly came to mind.
“Like the star over Bethlehem?” I questioned.
“Yes.” Was the matter-of-fact reply.
Funny thing was… she was right.
When we turned down towards our house, there was the moon right overhead.
And in that moment I smiled.
A flood of memories of Christmas plays and nativity scenes came to mind.
But then another thought consumed my thinking. More than a cute play where kids dress in oversized bathrobes, more than an image on Christmas cards… the bright star in the sky, the angel, the shepherds, the young mother Mary and the new baby… Jesus…
all those people? They were real.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).
It seems silly to be consumed by that thought. And yet, I was… still am.
Because just as matter-of-fact was my daughters response, so too we celebrate at Christmas what is a matter of fact because Emmanuel, God with us, was real.
Advent at work in my heart. I suppose you could say, doing just what advent was meant to do: prepare for the coming.
Something else so very real hit me too, the other people we remember in tellings of the Christmas story and in Nativity plays. Think of all the people other people who had no idea it was happening in their very midst in Bethlehem, right under the same star. Think of the keeper whose inn so full he had no space for them. Think of the king whose own ambitions clouded his heart to what was at hand. People who were right there and missed it all.
And here we come to the heart of it: how many right now are missing it all?
Because Jesus didn’t just come some 2,000+ years ago. Emmanuel, God with us, born on a night in Bethlehem and now celebrated on Christmas… “God with us” changed everything.
How many of us missed that today?
I mean, how many people missed what was happening right in our midst, what God is doing? How many of us know that advent is here, know of the life-changing work of God, know salvation through Christ’s redemptive/redeeming work of the cross… but have missed it today because we were too busy, too full, too egocentric?
Quite an easy state to find yourself. Whether you have more activities than can possibly fit in one day or you are busy doing almost nothing as hours pass by almost meaninglessly on social media/games/watching tv.
With so much available to us, how can there be room for more? Whether the space God should fill in your life has found itself full from all the little things you have to “snack” upon or other idols you’ve stuffed in your heart.
Living in a narcissistic world can lead us to thinking we sit at the center. Hard to see what is truly happening when we’ve become so inwardly focused for understanding, fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction.
But that is where advent meets us, beckoning us to prepare for the coming… calling our weary souls to slow…. causing us to pause and make room… whispering deep within to look for “God with us.”
How is God speaking to you tonight? Don’t let this moment pass you by. Our Emmanuel has come. He is here!
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” The almost haunting melody pierces deep as I think back to Israel on the night Jesus was born. The echo of generations awaiting the coming and Emmanuel, God with us, changed everything. Tonight that refrain plays for me as this advent my heart prepares for His coming (again).