Oh come to us, abide with us our Lord Emmanuel. This melody closes the familiar carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” In a beautiful way, these words are both a declaration of what happens at Christmas and a prayer for the future presence of Emmanuel in our midst. With a spirit of thanksgiving, we celebrate the arrival of the Son of the Most High; and with a spirit of anticipation, we long for His return. In both cases, joy is rooted in the presence of God among us (Psalm 16:11).
Adam and Eve experienced the purity of God’s presence in Eden before sin entered the world. The Israelites experienced the healing holiness of God’s presence in the wilderness. At Christmas, God’s presence is clothed in human flesh. Emmanuel comes to abide with us. When God unveils the new Jerusalem, He promises to dwell again among His people. Oh the joy we will experience when Christ returns, and God walks again with His people!
Heavenly Father, in Your presence is fullness of joy! From eternity past, You have been with us. In this present time, You live in us by your Holy Spirit. In the future, you will return to reign among us forever. Thank you Lord, for being present with your people throughout the ages.
Tuesday, December 18th
Reason to Rejoice
Luke 2:8-20 | I Peter 1:3-9
As the night deepened, calm came over the city. For a few hours, the noise of the foreigners flooding Bethlehem was hushed. The shepherds, embracing the quiet, anticipated a peaceful night. No sooner had their heavy eyelids given in to sleep than a piercing light flooded the field. Radiant white light replaced the soft yellow glow of their fire. An angel appeared before them with astonishing news.
Wiping the sleep from their eyes, the frightened shepherds listened as the angel proclaimed the birth of their promised Messiah. Their fear was replaced with joy as they ran to meet their Savior. The Promised One had come! With Bethlehem brimming with people, many would hear their joyous news. To strangers in the market, to their neighbors in the streets, they proclaimed the arrival of the Savior just as the angel had told them. For all they had seen and heard, they had a reason to rejoice!
Heavenly Father, may your abundant joy flood our lives this Christmas! Even if we have heard the news of your birth for many years, please renew our joy and wonder so that, like the shepherds, we will speak of your glorious arrival to all who enter our homes this season. We have a reason to rejoice; let us not keep this good news to ourselves.
Thursday, December 20th
Alive With Joy
Luke 1:39-56 | Luke 2:16-20
In Mary, we see the deep well of joy that comes not from a possession or a privilege but from the Person of Christ growing within her. In the company of her cousin Elizabeth, the woman who shares her joy of the impossible, Mary sings to the Lord. The young girl’s speechlessawe explodes into joyful song as the reality sinks in – God’s Son lives within her!
We read of Mary’s deep joy once again following Christ’s birth. This time though, the young mother is filled with unspeakable joy and silent wonder as she holds her baby boy, her Savior. “The fullness of the Godhead rest[s] in her inexperienced arms, sleeping to the rhythm of her heart.”* In those moments, Mary is speechless in adoration yet fully alive with joy.
Heavenly Father, the combination of Mary’s expressive praise and uncontainable joy resonates with us as we consider our own experiences in your presence. At times, our joy is lifted up directly to Heaven in silent worship. Other times, our joy in You comes out as we dance and sing before You. Whether in silence or song, we, like Mary, are alive with joy!
*Beth Moore, Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only. (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2007), 39.