I sat here trying to type up words in my heart to share with you these last few days before Christmas, and they just didn’t seem to capture my heart. I have been reading and praying a lot of about the presence of Christ in my life and in my heart. It is a theme that keep sticking out to me this week through my quiet time and prayer time. I thought the these words from the first chapter of Max Lucado’s book “Because of Bethlehem” captured it best… take a look:
“Christmas presents from Santa? That’s nice. But the perpetual presence of Christ? That’s life changing.
God is always near us. Always for us. Always in us. We may forget him, but God will never forget us. We are forever on his mind and in his plans. He called himself “ ‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matt. 1:23).
Not just “God made us.”
Not just “God thinks of us.”
Not just “God above us.”
But God with us. God where we are: at the office, in the kitchen, on the plane. He breathed our air and walked this earth. God . . . with . . . us!
We need this message more than ever. We live in anxious times. Terrorism is living up to its name— terror. Violence. Because of Bethlehem, I have a Savior in heaven. Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. The child in the cradle became the King on the cross. hangs over our planet like a dark cloud. Think about the images on the news: the senseless attacks, the bloodshed, the random acts of cruelty.
And, as if the malice were inadequate, there is the fear of another recession. We seem to teeter on the edge of bull markets going bear and the financial world going down. The shepherds stayed awake, watching their flocks by night. You’ve been sleeping with one eye open trying to keep watch over your stocks by night.
And there is more:
The job you can’t keep
The tumor you can’t diagnose
The marriage you can’t fix
The boss you can’t please
We can relate to the little boy who played the part of the angel in the Christmas story. He and his mother rehearsed his lines over and over: “It is I; don’t be afraid.” “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
Yet, when the Christmas pageant began, he walked onto the stage and saw the lights and audience and he froze. After an awkward silence, he finally said, “It is me and I’m scared.”
Are you scared? If so, may I suggest that you need a little Christmas? I don’t mean a dose of saccharine sentiment or Santa cheer or double- spiked eggnog. That’s not Christmas.
Christmas, as my dad said, is about Christ. Christ’s name occupies six of the nine letters, for crying out loud. This isn’t Santa- mas, or shopping- mas, or reindeer- mas. This is Christ- mas. And Christ- mas is not Christ- mas unless or until you receive the message of Bethlehem.
Have you? In the hurry and scurry of the season, have you taken time to receive the promise of the season?
God gets us. God saves us. God is always near us.”
So, friends, as you prepare to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my prayer is that you would deeply feel his presence. Merry Christmas from the Clarke Fam!