The God who is With Us

“A virgin will have a baby boy and he will be called, Immanuel,” which means “God is with us!” (Matthew 1:23)

Once again, Christmas comes. Not as a sedative to calm our nerves when turbulent events hurl sadness into spaces where happiness once reigned. Not as a medicine to lift our spirits when indescribable suffering fills our eyes with tears and our minds with fearfulness.

Christmas comes! Not as a palliative to numb our pain when we are swamped by surging waters that threaten to swallow us up. Not as a time of artificial illumination to help us cope with the darkness that blinds us to whatever real joy earth may host.

Christmas comes to remind us of an unmistakable truth: The God we serve is not aloof from the world, robed in amazing self-sufficiency, surrounded with glorious splendor, uncontaminated by the sinful human condition, and untouched by impurity.

The claim is true that God is transcendent, removed from the vagaries of life, unrestricted by the limitations of earthly existence, reigning in perfect peace. Yet, this is not all we know about God.

At Christmas, we remember that God enters into the rough and tumble of our lives. Because of love for creation, God sends Jesus the Son into this world to open up for us the way to the realm above in which earth’s trials cannot match heaven’s benefits.

Jesus comes. He sees and experiences the appalling circumstances in which many people eke out their existence. He smells the odor of a stall and he feels the effect of poverty. Together with his earthly family, he faces the terror caused by abuse of political power and he suffers the plight of those who are forced into refugee status.

It is Christmas! And when Jesus comes, a choir of angels bursts into singing; shepherds come in from the fields and magi travel from afar to greet him.

The God whom Jesus reveals is transcendent – the one who is above us. But God is also immanent – the one who is beside us and around us. This is the God who is with us in a world that cradles sadness, disappointment and even despair.

Here is good news for all of us, including those who feel trapped in difficult circumstances. We are not alone. God is with us. And when God comes to us, hope descends on us, praise ascends from us and, in defiance of the spiritual forces of evil, we experience peace even in the midst of a storm.

Neville Callam
General Secretary

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