Let's tiptoe back into Luke's account of the Christmas story, and pick up where we left off.
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:26-28
I've been focusing on the word Emmanuel this entire holiday season. Everywhere I turn, it's a name I keep hearing and reading. This past week, I took the kiddos to see "Bethlehem Revisited" at a church here in Conway, Arkansas. It was a beautiful production with actors (church members) that reenacted the time when Jesus was born.
In the recreated town of Bethlehem, one man read from a scroll of Hebrew. He read of the birth of Jesus in authentic Hebrew, even using the intonations of a Jewish priest. It was beautiful. I was transfixed. I enjoyed grabbing onto the words that I could barely make out. Yeshua. David (pronounced Da-veed). And Emmanuel.
Emmanuel. God with us. When the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, the mother of Jesus, he affirmed God's presence in her life. He knew he had some heavy stuff to share with her, so he must have felt the need to remind her that she was not alone. The Lord was with her.
During my intimate time with God this morning, I was reminded that God is with me. Just as He was with Mary. He reminded me that in 2011, over two thousand years after Mary's visit from the angel Gabriel, His presence is very real in my life. Through His Word, He quieted my spirit as I wrestled with the giants in my life. The giant of pursuing a writing career. The giant of preparing for a workshop I'm teaching at church in January. The giant of managing a family, along with being a pastor's wife, a community activist, a journalist, etc. etc.
He quieted my spirit with these words:
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:4God quiets me with his love. When I rant about everything imperfect in my life, He quiets me. When I wonder why life couldn't be a little easier, He quiets me. When I forget that faithful is He who calls who will also do it, He quiets me.
This Christmas, I am a child crying out for comfort, for empathy, for love from my Heavenly Father. And like a loving Daddy, He takes me in His arms, strokes my face with His hand and plants a moist kiss on my cheek.
And I know He loves me still. I know He is always with me. Emmanuel.
Cradled in His Arms,