Christmas Devotional

God is with (the real) us

God is with (the real) us

Sunday Dec. 22

Scripture: Matthew 1:22-23

Two of the four Gospels tell us about the birth of Jesus –Matthew and Luke. The other two Gospels, Mark and John, bring Jesus onto the stage as an adult. There are no appearances by the baby Jesus in the second or fourth Gospels.

Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus’ birth very differently. One of the many differences is that Luke focuses primarily on Mary while Matthew’s story centers on Joseph.

In Matthew we don’t read anything about how Mary learned that she would be the mother of Jesus (that’s only found in Luke 1:26-38). Instead, we read about Joseph and his response to Mary’s unexpected pregnancy.

Joseph’s initial plan is to end their engagement, but God intervenes through an angel who appears to Joseph in a dream. Matthew tells us that this miraculous birth fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 –

“Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son. And his name will be Emmanuel” [God is with us]

It’s at the moment when everything Joseph planned seems to have completely unraveled that we hear the name Emmanuel. We’ve gotten in the habit of thinking that only stability and success can be a sign that God is with us. God is with us, we wrongly assume, only when things are going according to plan.  But in this story Joseph’s life was shattered and reformed. In it we’re reminded that the real meaning of “God is with us” is that God’s presence is not contingent on human success or strategy.

God is with us, the real us; the messed up us; the addicted us; the sick us; the violent us. God is with this world that God loves so much. May we take time to ponder that in these days leading up to Christmas.

Prayer: Thank you, O God, that we don’t have to have it all together for you to come to us. Take our brokenness and make it beautiful. Amen.

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