22 Days For Gratitude — Day 18: Immanuel

I wish I could have posted this on the actual holiday but my Christmas Day was a pretty full one. I hope that yours was, too, in all of the best ways. Our holiday was pretty busy and not without its moments of last-minute stress and forgetfulness. But thankfully, we enjoyed plenty of the things that the season has to offer. Including homemade Twinkies, given to me by my brother-in-law. And when I say “we” enjoyed them, I mean me. Myself. And I.

My favorite part of the holiday season had to be the Christmas Eve service at our church, the service beginning with the ringing of our new bell. I had never appreciated the sound of a ringing bell before until our congregations listened to it ring for the first time in its new home. The way it’s sound pierced through the air, with everything and everyone in the vicinity falling silent was mesmerizing. Or perhaps it seemed that the barrage of noise from the world faded because that chime was all that you could hear. You couldn’t have discerned any other noise around you even if you had tried. That sound engulfed me, it surrounded me. But it comforted me. It was resounding, not suffocating. It was piercing, but somehow softening. I felt like I was going to melt into my pew, I was so utterly moved.

Definitely, and very unexpectedly, my favorite part of our Christmas celebrations.

I don’t want to forget. The holiday season is nearly over. Christmas Day has passed us by yet again. We all should not forget this season and the meaning and worth that it holds. But we will, it’s inevitable. We will all forget. If you’re like me, you enter into each season thinking that you have heard the Christmas Story before, so perhaps you tend to shrug it off or not give it its due attention. We all know what happens, right?  We know the timeline of events leading up to Christmas Day, even if you aren’t particularly religious you most likely know the story. We have it memorized…but do we understand it? But do we understand how, what and why?

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Do we understand  precisely who He is? Do we realize how much we needed the word to become flesh? This year, this was the truth, the “hidden gem,” at least hidden from me, that God enlightened me to. It wasn’t that the world that Christ was born into was only recently broken and chaotic.  It wasn’t one specific thing or another that we needed saving from. It wasn’t as if we had it all together until shortly before Christ came and then we or something accidentally messed up. We have needed saving from almost immediately upon our creation. What we needed to be saved from is ourselves. From the chaos that we created. This was and still is true. When left to our own devices we are a broken and hopeless people. We can create nothing beautiful, peaceful, harmonious or lasting of our own. God knew this. He formulated this plan since before time began for us. Christ’s birth was just one step towards the culmination of His perfect will. The story does not end on Christmas Day. It didn’t end at Calvary. It didn’t end at the tomb.

There won’t be an end to the story…

I pray that Christ would reign mightily in your hearts, much like that bell ringing in the steeple overpowered all other noises around it on Christmas Eve. With this new year coming, I hope that you can look back on your life this past year and see where God has worked in your hearts and in the lives of those around you. That you would pour forth shouts of acclamation and sounds of joy, ringing gladly with great tidings of redemption and restoration. That Jesus would be with you, that He would be your comforter, your Shepard and your king.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

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