By Katie Brown, TFG Advocate
This was our Christmas tree a few years ago.
We were unexpectedly hosting a very (very!) busy toddler over Christmas, and nothing was going as planned. I was exhausted. We had no extra gifts, we were short a stocking, we hadn’t adapted our December schedule for a toddler, and everyone was tired. And then? He tried to climb our artificial Christmas tree and broke it beyond repair.
I wish I could say that I handled it with grace and joy. If I’m honest, I first got really resentful of a little kid who I loved! But then, I just got really sad. I sat down and cried. I knew it wasn’t about the tree really. It was just that everything was getting so…messy. This little one’s mom was in such a crisis that he couldn’t go home to be with her over Christmas. Most of my family’s plans had to be modified to adjust to him staying longer than I thought. Nothing seemed right, nothing was going as planned, disappointment was characterizing my days, and my favorite holiday was stressing me out.
But God. He always shows up if we seek HIm in these moments. As I was crying under the lights of the tipped over tree, I turned my tears to Him and I asked Him to fill me back up. And I clearly remember His words popping into my mind,
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23
When those words came in my mind, I knew what God was saying to me. He was reminding me that He was close to me. And because of that, I could follow Him and get close to others.
God WITH us.
This name for Jesus isn’t a name that communicates that we should just set up our tree and drink hot cocoa and create a Christmas that is exactly perfect. And this name doesn’t communicate that we can coast on our own plans or our own strength.
Instead, if we are followers of Jesus, this name, Immanuel, means that we get close to each other, because He gets close to us. The word “incarnation” is maybe just a fancy way of saying “God came and He got messy.” He put on all of the difficulty and lowliness of humanity so he could be with us. The King of Kings lying in a manger!
Plans and presents and upright trees aside, Christmas is a celebration of incarnation. Of God with us.
This is our heart at Together for Good. We know that Jesus gets close to us in our messes. We know that we needed Him to do this because we had no hope on our own. And by following His example, we want to share His hope with others. God says that following Him will not be easy, but He also says that in the midst of all of it, He will be with us. He will speak to our hearts in the moments that the tree crashes down, He will comfort our souls when this world weighs heavy, and He will help us find our way when we need to walk forward.
May each of you know that God is with you during this season. May you find time to meditate on the love and hope that is communicated within the incarnation of Christ. To our host families who are choosing to host over Christmas…we are praying that God would fill you up with His immeasurable joy.
God is with us!