Friday, December 26, 2014

Immanuel even now

Christmas is always a day of expectations.  Little ones are excited about what is wrapped in bright paper under the Christmas tree.  Older ones are looking forward to time to connect and remember and have a need meet that they can't quite name, but hope will happen today.  Believers expect to meet with the Messiah and rejoice and feel close to Him on this His celebration day.

The hours of the day click by and some expectations are met and others are not.  One minute there is joy, but another can be ache.  And after the hours trickle by and the evening settles I take stock.  There has been joy.  Smiles on kids' faces.  Laughter and moments spent playing and building and cuddling.  There have been conversations with family members over the computer.  There has been quieter time with a good friend.  There has been time to read and be still and be amazed that God would come and dwell with us, that He would come to pursue us, and begin that pursuit in the humblest of fashions.

But there has also been mess.  There has been whining and tantrums, lost pieces and lost patience.  There has been crushing-  crushing of torn paper and crushing of hopes to spend time with a loved one.  And my mouth which gave thanks for God's gift of Jesus has also spoken angrily and greedily to another instead of bowing lower and putting his needs first.  The same heart which looked for Him, did not let Him in to change viewpoints and emotions.

But the wonder of the day after Christmas is that Jesus is STILL Immanuel.  He still dwells with us. His Spirit resides in those that have relationship with Him.  He doesn't say, "You blew it.  So that's it.  I'm out of here."  He doesn't just stay for the warm fuzzy moments.  He stays for the ugly angry moments, too.  He remains in the mess and says, "Come to me.  Repent.  I will clean up the mess and help you with the consequences."  And we can expect this and not be disappointed.

Thank you, Immanuel.  I need you to dwell with me today, to change my mess and to transform me into what you desire.    

Friday, December 19, 2014


Immanuel- God with us. It's a phrase that keeps catching me this season. After giving thanks for all of God's provisions at Thanksgiving, the landslide of Christmas preparations almost drowned me. My mind churned with the preparing of wishlists for loving friends and family, and the house was waiting to be transformed from hearth to gutters with lights and garland.

The planner in me wanted to map everything out with lists- lists of what to buy, what to make, what to bake, what to read. As I headed to the store to begin crossing some things off a list, the weight of all the material things around me crushed me, and my spirit was heavy instead of joyful and light. The noise was great around me and in my head. I asked, “What does it mean to worship you, God, at this special season? How can I find you in this rush? What can I give to you as I give to others in this mess?”

And that's when those words caught me again, Immanuel- God with us. Jesus didn't come in the hush of a small home with a perfect family gathered around a crib complete with lovingly hand knitted blankets. He didn't come surrounded by the holy songs at the majestic temple while prayers rose to heaven. No. He came in the bustle of Bethlehem where there was no room because the world had been turned upside down by Ceaser Agustus and his call for a census. He came in a stable with nothing more to wrap him in than strips of cloth and nothing more to hold him than his mother's arms and a manger filled with hay. He came and he was with us in the noise and the mess and the world. And He is still Immanuel- God with us.

The days have passed. Many things on the lists are being crossed off. But frequently, I'm taking time to breathe and speak with Immanuel-God with us. It's the phrase that catches me and carries me. It catches me from the things that are easily tarnished and passing and carries me to the feet of Jesus, the King, who by His grace transforms my heart and the efforts of my hands and makes them worthy to worship Him.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
For each d ay he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves!
The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death. Psalm 68:19-20. May you also be blessed this Christmas season and throughout the year knowing that Immanuel is with you, carries you, and saves you.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cough, cough...sure is dusty around here!

It's been a long time since I pounded the keys in this little corner.  Not sure how often I'll be back, but I miss pondering and mulling and putting words to things.  There's just not always time these days.

So why do I pause here today?  This site stirred me today.  A December rainbow.

(Actually it's an image from the internet. I didn't have my camera at the time, but this image will do.)

Taking Ethan today the sun was breaking through the clouds.  As we walked to the building a shower of rain began to fall.  When Lydia and I turned around to head back to the car, we were greeted with a brilliant rainbow.  Actually it was a full rainbow- a complete arch of promise from one side to the other.  And a full double rainbow-  a mirror image of color, with the faint hint of a third one on the side.

Lydia and I just stood there and gazed upwards.  Finally we got in the car and drove home, still keeping our eye on the colored bow as a Christmas carol played on the radio.  I began to ponder.  My heart was full, remembering God's promise to Noah.  Noah had been warned of judgement for sin and followed God's plan of salvation by building the ark as God directed.  After the flood came and went, God graciously gave Noah a bright symbol of his promise to not destroy they earth with a flood again.  Now, here it was Christmas time.  Generations down the line from Noah, God provided another plan of salvation.  Instead of an ark, a manger held His Son, God in the flesh, who would offer His life on a wooden cross to deliver us from the judgement of sin.  

May your heart sing with mine today:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing
Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love