Year-’round Yuletide

So Christmas has come and gone. Or has it?

Every time our two-year-old granddaughter comes to our house, she seeks out two things in particular. In a child-sized rocking chair she finds a stuffed bear waiting in unrelenting hope for the eager embrace of two outstretched arms and one wide-open heart. What child wouldn’t hasten toward one so soft and warm and unflinchingly loyal? Abigail’s other must-do, however, is a little less intuitive. With her fuzzy friend in tow, she opens a cabinet door and pulls out the basket of Easter eggs we store there year-around. March or April—or June, August, Thanksgiving or New Year’s, for that matter, it makes no difference—every day is an Easter celebration as far as Abigail is concerned.

Our little friend doesn’t realize the profundity of her play, for every day truly is Easter: Christ is always risen from the dead, and His Spirit lives forever in all who entrust their mortal lives to His immortal one. The same can be said for Christmas, for God has fulfilled His promise of Immanuel (which means “God with us”): in Christ, God has come to us forever, and He will never leave us. “If anyone loves me,” instructed Jesus on the night in which He would be betrayed, “he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). And before ascending into heaven weeks later, Jesus assured His followers, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Then surely every day is Christmas. God’s promises of His Messiah are forever fulfilled, so our comfort in Him is complete. “God with us” is eternal, so the joy of the Yuletide is always ours if we stop long enough to savor it.

So today and every day, may you have a very Merry Christmas. And a Happy Easter, too!

God, send your Spirit to me this day, that I would trust your promises and live in the peace of their fulfillment. Grace me to bring your comfort and your joy to those around me today. Amen.


Learning from Linus

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!?” Charlie Brown first cried out his question on December 9, 1965, over 50 years ago. Linus Van Pelt had a ready answer for his good friend, and ever since then he has been sharing it with whomever will listen. Let’s hear the Christmas story one more time from Linus.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


If Immanuel Never Came

immanuelAll this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:22, 23 NIV) 

“God with us.” It’s what Christmas is all about. The God of the immeasurable universe came to rescue and reclaim the only part of His creation that bears His image—us. Yet it makes one think, what if “Immanuel” never happened? What if God merely spun this little blue-marble into motion and then “come what may”? What if the Son of God never took on human flesh and walked among us for a purpose? Where would we be? What would our life be like? What would be our destiny?

If no Immanuel, we would carry a guilt we could not defend, but as it is, God “has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation . . . “ (Colossians 1:21).

If no Immanuel, we would owe a debt we could not pay, but as it is, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code . . . that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13, 14).

If no Immanuel, we would face a chasm we could not bridge; instead, “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

If no Immanuel, we would tremble with a fear no one could placate, but “we have [a high priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15, 16).

If no Immanuel, we would grope for a hope no one could grasp, but instead, “he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . . “ (1 Peter 1:3).

If no Immanuel, we would be alienated from God by sin for which we could not atone, but “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20).

If no Immanuel, we would perceive a far-off God no one could understand, but He has shown us Himself, for “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being . . .” (Hebrews 1:3).

But Immanuel did come, just as God promised. He came at just the right time and for just the right purpose. He came because God loves us. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “’Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:4-6 ESV).

Thank you God for coming to us. Thank you for coming for us. We are eternally grateful to you. In Jesus. Amen.