Emanuel - God is with Us!
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God on the highest and on earth, peace among those with whom he is well pleased.’”
- Matthew 2:14
Susan asked: “What is your favorite Christmas Carol?” “Frosty the Snowman,” I relied sarcastically, although that song doesn’t technically qualify as a “Carol.” Looking for a more spiritual minded answer, she asked: “Is it ‘Joy to the World’?” “No” I replied, “’Oh, Holy Night’ is my favorite Carol.” What is it about the classic Christmas Carols that we love so much? For many, it’s a longing to make right what is wrong in the world. For others, it is about dreams coming true. And for others, it’s about sharing the love and blessings of friends and family. Why do I find this particular Carol s meaningful? I would answer with one word: fulfillment. For me it is a song that captures the spiritual meaning of Christmas beyond one calendar day in the year. It reminds me of all that has already happened coupled with the promise of what is yet to come. Consider what the author is saying:
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
...The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manager
In all our trials born to be our friend.
...He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Truly He taught us to love one another.
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppressions shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
...Let all with us praise His Holy Name!
...Christ is the Lord...ever praise we!
His power and glory, evermore proclaim!
2020 was a very strange and challenging year. We have experienced uncertainties in the world, the nation and our community. We have political and social uncertainties as well. What does this mean to us as a church community? For us, the most prominent fact is the absence of fellowship. With gatherings limited and people keeping a prescribed and necessary distance from one another. Two specific events that symbolize the spirit of Deer Creek Presbyterian Church have been cancelled, the monthly breakfasts and the Christmas Dinner. But the question I ask is this: with the absence of these events, have we ceased to be the church?
At the Thanksgiving Worship, we featured three people who shared their thoughts on thanksgiving and the church. It was very clear that all were thankful for the community we have here at the church. What if we extended that idea to what Christ has done for us as we prepare to celebrate His arrival? “Emanuel” ( God is with us) is perhaps the most under used term by most pastors. It is emphasized at Christmas and then disappears after the “season” is over. But that is one of the central beliefs of our faith. This is a fact that we not only need to remember, but to embrace and live every day. In these challenging times, it is hard to understand how anyone could not trust in Christ. Christmas gives us the opportunity to remember “God is with us” every day through Jesus Christ.
Hope, peace, love and joy are the themes of the season of preparation known as Advent. Do you see a contrast between these themes and the present state and attitude of the world? On Thanksgiving, as a challenge to everyone, I asked: “Who do you believe in? Is it the news or the gospel of Jesus Christ?” In a world where people are unsure of what the “truth” is, can you believe in something greater, more reliable and more accurate? Yes we can! The promises we receive through Christ are reliable and will come to pass.
At this Christmas 2020 and as we look forward to 2021, make a point to draw closer to Christ. Seek him, trust him and walk with him. Hope, peace, joy and love are all found in the gospel of Christ, not matter what circumstances we face. Remember every day: Emanuel - “God is With Us!”
May God bless you, protect you and draw you close this Christmas season. And may the blessing of the Almighty protect you in the New Year!
Yours in the Strong Name of Jesus Christ our Savior and King!