Section 3: The Light Dawns
As I sit down to write this Christmas day devotional, it is not lost on me where you might be reading it. Whether it’s Christmas morning or evening, whether you’re home or traveling, with the ones you love or apart from them, whether it looks the way you hoped or not, Christmas came, didn’t it?
The day we remember the birth of our lowly baby-King, the day we worship with wonder the God who can form bones in a virgin’s womb, and the day we contemplate all that it means that our Creator would choose to be Creator-with-us, is finally here! Friend, whatever the circumstances, whatever the obstacles, you are here, too. You chose to open your Bible today—to anchor the festivities in Truth. In the midst of a day that lauds the new, you paused to return to the ancient. I’m so glad you’re here.
Today’s reading is another year older, and yet somehow it can sit on our laps or in our hands or in our ears and mouths as fresh as the day it occurred. God kept His two-millennia-old promise to Abram. He chose righteous Joseph and Mary to appear unrighteous in order to be the parents of His only Son. He invited the uninvited shepherds to hear the news first by sending an actual crowd of angels to proclaim literal “peace on earth” to their weary ears (Luke 2:14). God came in the least and most spectacular way, to be with us.
I’ve been meditating on this truth over this season of Advent, and it has met me in a fresh way this year. Maybe it’s because being with people isn’t always easy, and this only becomes magnified in a season of togetherness. As I have been with folks this December, I have felt all the feelings that happen when people spend time with people. Joy, fullness, irritation, impatience…the whole range! And it hit me that God chooses to be with me. He doesn’t feel about me the way I feel when I’m with people I don’t enjoy or understand. From what I know about the love He has for me, and because the blood of His Son covers me, I believe He does understand me and even enjoys my company. “God with us” has taken on a new meaning for me this year and it has only increased my desire to be with God.
I hope you know that He left His comfort in order to be your comfort. I hope you know this is true about you, too.
Because of the truth of what we read today, “God with” not only happened in Bethlehem then. It extends beyond Galilee and Jerusalem. Because of Christmas, “God with” is even bigger than the pillar of fire at night and cloud by day. It’s not only in tents or temples or burning bushes. Because of Bethlehem, and because Jesus left us His Spirit, “God with” reaches from Nazareth to Nairobi to New Hampshire, from Capernaum to Charlottetown to Colorado Springs. It extends from then to now to eternity because God intends to dwell with His people again in a way mankind hasn’t known since the garden.
As you sit with these passages from Luke and Galatians today, consider as clearly as you possibly can the reality of “God with you.” And on this day that we remember and celebrate God becoming like us—God being with us—my prayer is that the most remarkable part of your day (more than gifts or food or fellowship or lack of any of these things) will be that you met with the One who came as a baby in a manger, that you know Him personally and sensed His Spirit’s presence with you today. That you had the opportunity to worship Him and you took it.
My prayer for you—for all of us—is that our preparations for the Christmas season would dim in comparison to our preparations for the return of our King. That “God with us” would be both our comfort and our aim. And, whether I’m the first or the fortieth to say it to you today, Merry Christmas, beloved one. Jesus came for you, and that is worth celebrating today!