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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS

~ Unto Us ~


“An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘...Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:8-11, NIV). This announcement has many remarkable aspects, one being the angel did not say the Savior had been born to Mary and Joseph. Christ was born “unto us”, the reason for His title, “The Son of man” (or of humankind). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV). He was born into the human family, not just the holy family of Mary and Joseph.

Jesus even called us His mother: “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:46-50).

Thus the Son of the human family became Emmanuel, meaning “God-with-us.” Now comes the miracle and mystery of redemption: “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:14-17, NIV).

Jesus is the Son of God as well as the Son of man. The Spirit of the Father conceived Christ as the Incarnation of Himself, having “begotten, not made,” His Son in the womb of a woman, and so humanity “begot” His Son. The Christmas mystery allows Paul to declare, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27, NIV).

This makes Christ our Brother (Co-heir), High Priest (sacrificing His very Self), Lord (God) and Master. He is everything to and for us. He is our All. This desire, humility, and love of the Most High God, who is infinite in all aspects conceivable by humans, moves Him to engage us so intimately! “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:7b). How can we not feel astonishment and wonder?

So much of Christmas is about family and home. There are songs about this longing, like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  Our excited children are images of the Christ child, for “their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Some Christmas dinner tables are abundant and festive. Many are meager. Some of our houses are extravagant and more than is necessary for comfort. Many have none. But houses are not homes. Homes are gathering places of loved ones and faithful friends, even if it’s a clearing in a snow covered forest, a cave in the desert, or a grass hut in the tropics. Those are places that Jesus, when in the body and now in Spirit, loves to enter, for even two people getting together in His name holds the promise “I will be in your midst.” The Emmanuel, God-with-us, also exudes a zeal for making His home in the cell of a prisoner or a scrap metal shack of a barrio family. It’s always Christmas when we watch for the Emmanuel being with us, and is grace to embrace Him wherever and in whomever He appears.

We are a pilgrim people, however. Our homes are like those of the nomads. Jesus promised, “I am going [to my Father’s house] to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2b). “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

Although we call the eternal heaven our true home, as did the apostles, our nomadic pilgrimage in this life is infused with the home life of the Emmanuel. We are always at home when He makes His home within us, now and forever. What a wondrous, eternal Christmas gift “unto us”!
 
 

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
   in the Christian Faith ~
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