There are some Christmases that stand out more than others. There was the Christmas after I turned ten. My sister Jeannie and I got long faux fur coats. Hers was black and mine was white-gray, each with matching leather belts that tied around the waist. We felt so glamorous in them. I remember wearing mine in the house all day on Christmas posing like some 1950s Hollywood starlet. If I looked half as good as I felt in that fur coat, then I was absolutely stunning! I will never forget the sheer delight of that Christmas.
There was also the Christmas ten years ago. The first one without my Aunt Frannie. Most of our family's Christmas traditions were instituted by her throughout the years. We baked Christmas cookies with her every year. We shared a big Christmas Eve meal in her home with all of the cousins. We gathered around her silver Christmas tree with the jewel-tone lights as we took turns watching one another unwrap gifts. I will never forget the depth of loss I felt on that first Christmas without her.
Some of us are entering into a season of sheer delight. Our families will be gathered around us. We will have everything we need and most of what we want. We will enjoy laughter and good food. Maybe this will even be one of those Christmases that stands out to you in later years.
Others of you may be experiencing loss this year. Someone you love may not be gathered around the table this Christmas. Or, maybe you feel forgotten or rejected by someone who is important to you. Some of you may be waiting on an answer to a prayer or a longing to be fulfilled. This Christmas may be memorable to you for reasons you would rather forget.
In Matthew 1:23, we read, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."
Immanuel has long been my favorite name for Jesus. God with us. That's a powerful statement. God, who spoke the universe into existence, who looked into the darkness and called forth light, who formed and filled the watery chaos into all the beauty we see around us. That God is with us.
Jesus, who had all of the divine rights of the Father, lowered Himself to come to earth in human form, to share in our human existence so that He would not only be for us but with us in all things.
He is not just walking beside you. He knows how you feel. He is with you in every way. For whatever this season of life holds for you right now, God is with you. Whether its sheer delight, the depths of grief, or somewhere in-between, God is with you. He is with us. If we can hold fast to that truth this Christmas, it will surely be one that we treasure for years to come.