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The Jesus of Christmas

“Immanuel” - “God with us” announced the angels two millenia ago. And thus, a great cosmic mystery unfolded in human history. The most holy and omnipotent God, whose nature and existence we cannot comprehend with our finite minds, who exists beyond the universe that he made, broke directly into human history to reach out to us. The eternal Christ emptied himself of his divine powers and prerogatives, took on human form, to show us the way to salvation. And not just to show us the way, but so that he himself would become the way, as he humbled himself to death on a cross for us.

This month, as we reflect on the Christmas gift of the Son to us, let us remember it not just as a story of long ago, but let us also remember his profound love. Let us open ourselves to experiencing it more each day. Jesus, our Immanuel, came to be with us, and is always with us and in us.

This is amazing for so many reasons, first of all, because God himself is infinitely beyond our understanding. He is fully holy, all-powerful, and transcendent – beyond the created universe and not at all limited by time, space, and creation. We cannot know or understand this triune God who is so completely different and beyond our reality, except that he has revealed himself to us through his Word, and by coming down to live among us. It is a profound, awe-inspiring mystery that the eternal God would want to reveal himself to us, love us, become like us, and die for us. We can then personally know the unfathomable God and have a deep, personal relationship with him.

We simply respond to his great love for us by recognizing him as both the great God that he is, and by recognizing him as the lover of our souls. These are two basic but profound elements of worship. First, a profound reverence of God, recognizing the awesome God that he is, is what the Old Testament means by fearing God, and this is the starting point of genuine worship. And second, we practice a love relationship with our divine Love. Loving Jesus and receiving his love every day is necessary for worship and intimacy with God. This is a love that can heal our souls and change us. These elements are key to a worship that can free our souls from whatever hinders us.

Now during the holiday season, some people may feel lonely or depressed. If so, this is a sign that a person has drifted from Christ’s love and presence, and is not so fully anchored in God. If you experience the holiday blues, then all you have to do is to seek him and run back into his arms of love and healing; take time to refocus on our Lord, worship him, meditate on him, and ask him to show his love to you. But as a relationship, love goes both ways. So in worship, express your love and thanks to God, and ask to experience more of his love.

The Christmas story is about God with us, and his coming is all about his love for us. And we get a glimpse of the final fulfillment of this cosmic mystery in Revelation, where he will wipe every tear from our eye, comfort us, and bring us into his eternal presence. Jesus, our Immanuel, will be with us, and us with him, forever in his love. The story’s end is an ending that never ends.


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