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Emmanuel – God With Us

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Emmanuel – God With Us

(Interior of a Stable by Joshua Cristall)

Over the last few years, my interest and attachment to Christmas fru-fru has diminished.  My family tree ornaments, and those inherited from my parents, are lovingly packed away, because each one of them has a story and memory attached.  All three grown children are gluten-intolerant, so I’m not baking Christmas cookies at present (though THAT tradition will resume when I have grandkids to spoil!!).  Our home lacks any visible evidence of Christmas (though I have carefully selected and stashed KILLER stocking stuffers — much more important than presents to my family!).

But a new and unexpected gift has been given to me this Advent.  Daddy’s pending heart surgery next week, and the work we have done to clarify and document every step of what I’m to do when he goes to live in God’s house (hopefully not for several years), has brought me straight into the stable.  Mary lay in dirty hay and animal shit when she gave birth to Jesus.  It wasn’t pretty, convenient, or fun.  But God showed up personally in that family, and made it possible for all of us to become members of God’s family.

I’m not in any way criticizing the beautiful and often meaningful traditional practices of
Christmas.  No doubt the day will come again when our home smells of pine tree, sugar and spice, and I’ll play my “A Charlie Brown Christmas” CD several times a day.  I remain passionate about stockings, singing in the choir for Christmas Eve mass, and most important of all, being with my children, husband, and daddy to celebrate our love for God and each other.  But my heart smells donkeys and sheep, and feels the pain that comes with the birth of any significant life-changing event.

I wonder at these unsought changes in me.  And what’s really weird is I don’t hear silence in my carol-less house.  My radar picks up singing angels, and shepherds and sheep screaming in terror (“Fear not”? Yeah, right).  I’m conscious of the wavering wail of a new-born baby and a bloody mess.  And right here in the midst of the unsettling unknowns in my life, God persistently repeats, “My name isn’t ‘I DO’, but ‘I AM’.  I am all you need.  I am with you.  And how things are going to happen isn’t any of your business.  But be assured, I am taking perfect care of you.”  Did you hear that, Mary and Joseph?  Did you hear that, Joy?

“Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;  from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.”

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About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. We are voracious readers and have loaded bookshelves in every room in the house except the kitchen and bathrooms. As a wordsmith, I write in long-hand everyday and use a computer by necessity. I am part of an eclectic group of Jesus-followers called Outlaw Preachers and have a passion for prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression. My musical tastes include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joni Mitchell, old scratchy-record blues, and the great classical sacred choral works. One other thing: dark chocolate and garlic are major food groups, but not together.

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