Christmas in One Word
Early December brings one of my favorite activities: decorating the Christmas tree. I love pulling each ornament from the storage box as memories flood in. Beginning with the oldest, I pull out an ornament that hung on my family’s tree as I grew up, then one that belonged to my husband’s family. Next come the handmade ornaments crafted by my children many years ago. Then I hang the “You are a special neighbor” ceramic disc from my friend who is now deceased. And the snowy country scene painted on a wooden heart that another friend brought back from a New England bed and breakfast. The oversized blue glass pencil-shaped one that a dear friend gave me when I began writing professionally.
I like to end with a red shiny ball inscribed with a single word—a word that to me sums up Christmas: Immanuel. In a sense, that word answers a question that King Solomon asked at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 6). Even though God’s glory had taken the form of a cloud and filled the Temple, Solomon prayed, “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
Although God is spirit, he had made the Temple a point of contact and communication with his people for that time.
The sight of the Lord’s glory filling the splendid Temple pales in comparison to the picture of a newborn baby lying in a manger a thousand years later. While the Temple symbolized God’s spiritual presence, at Jesus’ birth God came down to the earth in human form. Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension paved the way for a new point of contact and communication between God and his people. As believers we have God’s Holy Spirit living inside us, making a personal relationship possible. We also have the promise of enjoying a new level of intimacy with God in heaven when we can live together with him unhindered by the presence of sin.
Long before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah had prophesied that a virgin would give birth to a son who would be named Immanuel. Isn’t that the best word to sum up the message of Christmas? Immanuel: God is with us.
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs (such as CBN.com and FindingGodDaily.com), contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.