For as long as I can remember- or at least for the last few years, since my memory is fading fast in my old age- I have absolutely loved any Christmas song with the word (or name, rather) Emmanuel. Of course this is one of the names assigned to Jesus in Matthew 1, which says, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

God with us? This is my favorite name for Jesus because it literally means that not only was Jesus born to become our Savior, Redeemer, and Messiah, but He literally is with us. Over the past few months, God's presence has been made so very clear through blessings from friends, specific answers to prayer, and most of all just His peace when not a whole lot about life made sense. Every time we sing about Emmanuel, I'm reminded again of how amazing that is...  Jesus is not dwelling among us as a man any longer but dwelling in our hearts as our closest friend.

One of my very favorite songs about Emmanuel is this one by Mark Hall, "God Is with Us." I vividly remember hearing my friend Justin sing it church a few years ago and loving it immediately. It's become even more dear to my heart in the years following since I love this word so much. The last few lines say: 

"God is in us,
God is for us,
God is with us-

Not only does the English teacher in me enjoy this lesson in prepositions (in us, for us, with us) but it really does blow my mind that not only is God in us (dwelling in our hearts), for us (our advocate to the Father and always desiring our best) but also with us- Emmanuel... our constant companion. Wow. I've heard a lot in the last few weeks about keeping Christ the center of Christmas and not being distracted from the true purpose of the season. This little post is that reminder to myself as much as anyone else. Jesus was born to die, to give His life for ours, and to make our eternal life with Him possible. Even though He only occupied a physical body for thirty-three years, He is still alive and well and "with us," occupying our hearts and minds and spirits, able to be found in our families and churches and homes and jobs. He's not looking on from a distance; He is with us, right in our midst if only we allow Him to enter.

On Sunday our pastor said, "If the gospel is the greatest story ever told, why aren't we telling it?" I know many, and probably most, of you already know the story very well, but if you don't, consider this my telling it to you. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful Christmas with family and presents and FOOD =), but remember that Jesus wasn't just a special baby born in a manger. He came not just for a visit, but for the opportunity for a permanent residence in your heart and mine. He came to be our Emmanuel

"God with us." I don't know about you, but I can't think of a more glorious gift than that. 

Merry Christmas!


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