IVP - Strangely Dim - And One Child Present with Us (in a Manger Made from a Tree?)

December 24, 2010

And One Child Present with Us (in a Manger Made from a Tree?)

Christmas Eve always seems to hold a hint of expectation and excitement. Maybe it's leftover from when we were children; on this day, our bodies still recall that too-excited-to-sleep feeling of wonder and anticipation. It's fitting, of course. Advent is all about anticipation and expectation, longing and preparation: Something is going to happen.

On that first Christmas, for Mary, in particular, that anticipation had a very physical form. There was her growing abdomen. There were small feet kicking inside her. There were contractions to tell her that, after hundreds of years of waiting, after nine months of expecting, Something was going to happen.

No doubt there were thousands of babies born the same night as Jesus, and probably even a good number in Bethlehem alone. As joyous of an occasion as those other births must have been, only Jesus' birth was announced to shepherds by angels, and only Jesus' birth was followed by a special star that led wise men hundreds of miles to worship at his feet. And only Jesus, even as a baby, proclaimed a long-awaited message: Immanuel, God is with us.

Christ's presence with us, on earth, to love and teach and mourn with and redeem us, is the gift we celebrate at Christmas. So, on this day before Christmas, whether you have all your gifts or none of them, consider giving that same gift to others: the gift of presence.

Of course, our presence cannot redeem anyone. But our presence with someone else can communicate love and truth. When we're present to others, we can mourn or celebrate with them. We can remind them of their value. We can help them in tangible, practical ways. You might, for example, offer to clean a friend's house as your gift to them. Or babysit for free. Or simply sit with them in silence in their sorrow. In so doing, you remind them of, and invite them to receive anew, the gift of Immanuel, God with us.

Advent is just the beginning, of course. As believers, our anticipation keeps building as we look forward to celebrating the resurrection of Christ--the event through which he defeated death and saved us from our sin--and then Pentecost, where he gave us the gift of his Spirit, to be present with us always. So celebrate tomorrow, for sure, but continue to celebrate, to live in expectation and gratitude for the God who is with us still.
Posted by Lisa Rieck at December 24, 2010 6:00 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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