By: Brian Harris
Probably like you, I am struggling to believe that Christmas is almost upon us – but facts are facts, and December is galloping away.
I have done some Christmas shopping and the family are soon due to see the Christmas lights – so it is definitely that time of the year.
As I have been thinking about the significance of Christmas, I have been struck by my favourite name for Jesus, Emmanuel – which means, God is with us. One simple thought has jumped out at me: Until that first Christmas people had a sneaking suspicion that God was for us, but after Christmas they knew it was more than that – God is actually with us.
From “For us”, to “With us”…
It is easy to be for something. All it takes is a like on Facebook, adding perhaps a comment to strengthen the sentiment. I am for so many things that I don’t actually do anything about. From time to time I survey all the things I am for, and decide, of all these valuable things, which am I going to commit my time to – which will I get involved with. That’s when I know what I am really invested in – when it moves from being for something to being with it through active engagement. It’s that moment when you dive on in and identify unreservedly.
Christmas is God’s moment of unreserved identification with humanity. And God certainly dives fully into the role. Coming to a conquered people, selecting as a landing point a cattle shelter in Bethlehem and shortly afterwards fleeing as a refugee to Egypt – wow, that’s identifying with the role.
Of course there is something a little troubling about this. For it is identification with the poorest and the most vulnerable. And that is not me… I am so privileged – indeed, I have already done some Christmas shopping and will soon be off surveying the Christmas lights. I might mutter about my bank balance, but I have a bank account to mutter about.
Don’t misunderstand me – I am for the poor and vulnerable. I wish them well and in modest ways try to make things a little easier for them. But the troubling question Christmas throws back at me is this: What would it mean if I moved from being for the vulnerable to being with them?
But then perhaps I already am, for as recent world events show us, we are never far from being vulnerable and broken and at the mercy of God.
And Christmas reminds me, this God is not just for us, but is totally with us.
Article supplied with thanks to Brian Harris.
About the Author: Brian is a speaker, teacher, leader, writer, author and respected theologian who is founding director of the AVENIR Leadership Institute, fostering leaders who will make a positive impact on the world.