'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'
--which means, 'God with us.'
God with us. With us in the muck, the mire, the darkness, the sadness, and the pain of life on earth. I think about Jesus, born into the darkest of circumstances. Into a poor family who seek shelter from the elements in a place where animals are kept. Into an occupied land. Into oppression and fear and sorrow. Into a world that did not recognize Him or look to protect Him.
And I think about our wish for peace at Christmas. But Jesus didn't just show up for the peaceful, easy moments, the beautiful, well-lit nativity with the gently smiling cow and the well-coifed Mary. He came for the worst and the hardest moments. And He is there in our hardest moments, as well.
This Christmas, Immanuel is my prayer. God, be with us. With my brother on a distant shore, in harm's way and homesick. With my husband in his troubled dreams. With my parents in their anxiety. With me in my trembling heart. Immanuel.
Hope your Christmas Eves are all peaceful and full of joy and love. But even if they're not, I hope you feel the presence of Immanuel, God with us, here at Christmas, wherever we are.