The great miracle of Christmas is upon us again. The God of the Universe, the God of Creation, has indeed come among us in the flesh. He came as an infant, born to a virgin in Bethlehem, a poor village in a distant corner of the great Roman Empire over 2,000 years ago. He was not born in a royal palace, destined to rule over a finite, earthly kingdom. But he is a king, a king with no peer. He rules over all of eternity. Yet this great mystery of our joy is present to us, each one of us, personally, every day. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
Is this not one of the greatest joys of our faith? God, the eternal One, who is, was, and always will be, has made himself known to us in the flesh. He has come among us and is the Messiah of our hopes. He is not distant. He is here, present, dwelling in the hearts of those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Those who not only believe, but live their lives in that belief, walking with God, doing justice, showing mercy, sharing his compassionate love with the lost sheep they encounter in their daily lives, know the presence of God intimately. They know Emmanuel. They have welcomed him into their hearts. They are full of his life-giving, empowering love.
Our God wants to be in relationship with us. He makes himself available to us in every moment of every day. He is present when we are in need. He is present when we are doing his will. He will never abandon those who love him. His Spirit dwells in the sanctuary of every soul that has opened itself up to his love and mercy. He is present to the world in every place, but so few realize his presence. Too many are in defiance of his presence and bring much suffering to the world. Yet, and here is the mystery of God’s love seen in yet another way, he is even more present to those who suffer unjustly for his sake. There is nowhere that we can hide from him. He is the “Hound of Heaven” that the English poet, Francis Thompson, writes about, the One who pursues us down the ages, down each one of our days, out of his undying, unconquerable love for us. This child, born to the virgin, Mary, is called Emmanuel, for he truly is with us.
Let us be quiet then. Let us find the solitude we need at this time to come to know his real presence in our lives. Let us bend our knees in recognition of his presence. Let us never forget his presence, for knowing it will set us free, free to live as he wishes us to live.
Jesus, you are truly Emmanuel. Help us to know your presence in every moment, in every situation, and every place throughout our days. Soften our hard hearts and give us the faith and the courage to welcome you into the temples of our souls. In this alone will we find the happiness we seek. In your name we pray these things, Jesus. Amen!
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