Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Immanuel of Everything

As part of the message Sunday during our Christmas service, our amazing New Life Lincoln Park worship team did this song by Coldplay, "Christmas Lights":

The theme of this song rings true: Christmas is an amazing time of year, but it doesn't always feel amazing.

Along with all of the fun, celebrating, and connecting with others, for some this season was nothing but the opposite.  It was a stressful season: Who all do I buy for? What do I get them? When am I going to have the time? That woman took the last pair, could I take her out before she gets to the register? It was a time that raised old hurts: remembering loss, broken dreams, loneliness, no presents under the tree. And these could create feelings of doubt: What’s the point? Anyone care? Is anyone out there?

In a lot of ways the season of Christmas mirrors the reality of life. We want the fun, celebration, and connection, but we keep coming up empty. We want a life like the tree decorated in Daley plaza downtown, but we keep coming up Charlie Brown. We desire an ideal, we want what seems to be expected, but we keep coming up with something else. Something lacking.

Since man and woman had been removed from the Garden because of their decision of disobedience, two things have always been true. First, the reality of sin is unavoidable: separating us from a relationship with God, preventing us from living life as it was meant to be, and ushering into our existence poverty, pain, and sorrow. 

But the second thing is that we long for hope. We want to know that we don't have to remain in an existence blanketed with darkness. We are like kids being driven around to look for Christmas lights but only finding dark streets. We want to see the lights.

The Bible says this about Jesus' birth:

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:21-23

Since the Garden God has never been absent, but he hasn't been among. Present but not touchable. But that changed with the birth of Jesus. Now He is once again where He longs to be: among us. 

Among us.
With us. 

Here not merely to make us feel better.
Here not merely to give us a sense of purpose and hope (though that's part of it)
Here so we can be redeemed, restored, and transformed.

We were not made to be apart from God.  
We were not made to be broken.  
We were not made to be lost.
We were meant to have souls awake and full of life.
We were meant to experience life as originally intended.  
We were meant to be with Him.

The birth of Jesus made this possible! His birth was the first step toward His death, which was the necessary step for our freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom from a zombetic existence.

And He is as much Immanuel now as He was at His birth: God with us. This is the light, hope, and beauty of Christmas: that He still wants to be our Immanuel!

Immanuel to our pain.
Immanuel to our loss. 
Immanuel to our broken dreams. 
Immanuel to our stress, confusion, anger, and apathy.
He wants to be Immanuel of everything!

But we have to allow Him to be. How? By acknowledging our guilty status before Him, seeking His forgiveness, and inviting Him to be Immanuel of our lives.

When He is Immanuel of our everything, then our souls are truly awake. Then we are truly living as we were made to be.

“It is not in our prosperity, satisfaction, and contentment that we encounter Christ, Christ is never superfluous. It is in our poverty and pain, discontent and sorrow, that we can truly encounter Christ as Immanuel – God with us. Poverty, pain, and sorrow are negative; but they also create the negative space that makes room for Christ to be present” – Brian Zahnd   
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

1 comment:

Kevin said...