Emmanuel, God is with us. Ever since the fall, the Israelites have been looking for a savior, a messiah. In spite of the words of the prophets, the Israelites were looking for a warrior, a king to come and set them free. But God, in the fullness of time, fulfills the words of the prophets and comes to us as a baby. Fully human, fully divine from the beginning. He chooses to come to us in a very vulnerable and intimate way, within the context of a family. It was necessary that the messiah would come to us in a fully accepted humanity to become the most perfect sacrifice for our sins, to bring us back into right relationship with Him.
Jesus desires to come to us in this most intimate way. A way that is beyond knowledge, a way that makes a heart connection. In Jeremiah, Chapter 31:33 it says, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts.” Jesus’ coming, in this most intimate way, writes upon our hearts taking our knowledge and making it a part of who we are.
As I was reflecting on what it means to me that, “God is with us”, God is with me in this most intimate way, I thought of the passage from Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” The image that came to mind yesterday, was the story, “How the Grinch stole Christmas.” In the story, we have the Grinch who lives up high on a hill above the town of Whoville. He definitely has a heart of stone, a cold frozen heart that is filled with sadness and loneliness that comes out in a mean way. The Grinch knows about the people of Whoville, he can watch them from his mountain, he can hear there singing. He knows a lot about them. He longs for some of that happiness that he senses coming from the town but does not know how to get it. So, he plans to steal some of the happiness by taking all of their Christmas presents.
Then something happens, he encounters little, Cindy Lou Who. Suddenly, he not only knows about the people of Whoville, he now starts to ‘know’ them, that intimate knowing that goes beyond the head and into the heart. And something miraculous happens, his heart is transformed. They say it grew 3 sizes that very same day. The Grinch is now a part of the family, he is welcomed into the community of Whoville.
This is the intimacy, the transformation that Jesus wants for us. He longs for us to accept him into our hearts and allow the transformation of our hearts to truly change us, to make us a part of the family of God. When I was finally able to make that 12 inch drop; that move from my head to my heart, it changed my life. I now belonged to a family, the family of God where I could be myself and be loved and be free. As it says in the canticle of Zeccariah, “This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.” Like the Grinch, I had been imprisoned in my own fears, anxieties and loneliness but when God is allowed to come into our hearts we are truly freed, free to worship him without fear.
I pray that this Christmas season, we will all let Jesus into our hearts in a more intimate way than we ever have before. Emmanuel, God is with us, is more than just a historical fact, more than just some knowledge, it is an intimate reality for every day of our lives. Come, Lord Jesus into our hearts.