Advent Devotional: December 23
"Look, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
– Matthew 1:23
Christmas is a time when we think of the deep mystery of the Incarnation – that God came to earth as a frail child on that first Christmas night. It is difficult to imagine that the Creator of the Universe would strip himself of his splendor and majesty to be born as a human infant in such humble circumstances.
During the days of the early church, there was a great theological struggle about the Incarnation and the human nature of Jesus. The argument was, "If Jesus was holy and divine, how could he also be human?" The early church leaders felt that this was such a critical issue that they addressed it in the Nicene Creed:
"For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven,
Was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
And became truly human."
In today's postmodern world the issue is almost reversed. Many will say that they believe that Jesus was only a good teacher, or a good example for us to follow, or a very wise man. However, some might ask, "How could he also be God?" The answer is in the Incarnation. God came to earth as a human baby in Bethlehem – fully God, and also fully human.
But what does it mean to us to have Emmanuel, God with us? Does God make a difference in our lives, especially when we face insurmountable difficulties? Does God being with us make a difference in our day to day dealings with other people? Does God incarnate help us to reach out in compassion to those around us who are hurting?
How is the mystery and wonder of "God with us" at work in your life?
Suthee Thumasathit, NorthPark Elder