written by Suzy Sherman
Matthew 1: 23 (ESV):
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Christmas is almost upon us. For many, this is a season filled with family gatherings, lavish meals and huge celebrations. Yet, for others, this can be a time of immense isolation, pain and regret. It’s a time filled with “what ifs” and “if onlys”. So much of our concept of Christmas revolves around what our culture has created it to be, and not the true “Christ” that is the focal point, or should be, of this season.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I think there is something incredibly special when families and friends gather together in true celebration of Christmas and the gift of our Saviour. However, if you take away the dinner, and the carols, and the tinsel on the tree, we’re still left with the same “Immanuel” – God with us. This truth is the reason we can wake up every morning and face the day, and the reason we can go to bed and rest in peace; because our God is with us!
I want to encourage you that, if this Christmas is a challenging time for you, your God is with you. Christmas isn’t truly about the presents, or the tree, or even celebrating with others, it’s about focusing on the gift of a God who is “with us”; a God who humbled Himself and came in the form of a tiny baby. The same baby that grew to become a man, who died on a cross and rose again three days later that we could have the hope of eternity with our Heavenly Father. This is Immanuel.
I remember, when I was a child, my parents had a copy of the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson hanging on the wall. In the final stanza, the author asks why there are only one set of footprints when they were going through the hardest times. I love that the Lord tells them that it was at those times that He was carrying them. I pray that in the midst of your pain, your regrets, your what-ifs, that you would know that you can trust, rely and depend on the God who is and always will be with you. The God who came and gave His all so you could find your all in Him. My hope for you would be that this Christmas you can find joy and peace as you hold on to this truth.
I also want to offer a challenge to those of you for whom this is a naturally celebratory time of year. When we focus on the true meaning of Christmas, we’re reminded of the Saviour who came to give us a hope and a future; a Saviour who came to serve and ultimately gave His life as a ransom for us. I want to encourage you this Christmas to examine if there are ways that you could shine the light of Christ to someone, or to multiple people, in a new way this season. It could be something as simple as shoveling the driveway for a neighbor in need, or it could mean opening up your home and sharing your Christmas celebration with someone you know has no one else to share this season with. I will never forget the Christmas family gatherings I spent as a child celebrating with my family and Mr. Greenaway (our 80 something year old neighbor who had nowhere else to go for Christmas). These were very special times for me and I learnt a lot from my parents about generousity as I watched them open their home in this way. I just want to encourage you to still yourself in the busyness of this season, and to ask how you could shine the light of Immanuel to someone else who might desperately need to see it this season. Let’s be people that show this world that our Immanuel, our God with us, also wants to be their Immanuel.
written by Suzy Sherman
Reminder that epikos church Christmas Eve services are Eastside 1:30pm and 3:00pm & West Allis 3:00pm and 4:30pm