What do you think about when you think about God? Does he seem real or more like a character out of a book? Do you grasp his majesty or is he more of an afterthought in your faith?
When you start to look at the original Hebrew in the Old Testament, you realize the ways that God identifies himself AND the ways that the people of Israel specifically honored God by name because of His character.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about the character and being of God and I invite you to join with me as I learn more about who He is and why He deserves our utmost praise and adoration.
I am the person that starts listening to Christmas music on November 1st and sometimes randomly throughout the year if I am in the mood for it. Christmas music just makes me happy! I’ll get down to some Mistletoe by Justin Bieber while working out or be belting out Mary, Did You Know? in the car like I belong in Pentatonix (trust me, I don’t).
As I was enjoying one of my many Christmas carol filled car rides the other day, I found myself overwhelmed at the thought of how many people produce Christmas albums or sing-a-long to their favorite hits, and might not even grasp the magnitude of who and what they are singing about! Some Christmas hymns are so powerful and yet some of the people most famous for singing them have yet to experience the fullness of a Christ-centered Christmas.
Take the song Mary, Did You Know — this song literally lays out the Gospel:
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb? That sleeping child you're holding is the great I am
He is the Lord of all creation, the ruler of nations, heaven’s perfect lamb, and the great I am. He is Immanuel — God with us — and yet, in all of the lights and songs and cookies and parties (pre-2020 that is), Jesus being the center of Christmas can be more of an afterthought.
Immanuel is the Hebrew name for God meaning “God is with us.” We first see this name attributed to him in Isaiah 7:14 where the Lord gives a sign to King Ahaz about the coming of Jesus. While the birth of Jesus would take place over 700 years after this prophecy, this is where we first learn that the Savior would be born of a virgin. The Gospel of Matthew alludes to this prophecy in its opening chapters and for the Jewish people, though they largely doubted Mary, it was living proof of the fulfillment of Isaiah 7.
Immanuel reminds us of God’s ability to be omnipresent — he is everywhere at all times. From the beginning of time God has been with us. He existed before the creation of the world. He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden and He wandered with the Israelites for 40 years in the desert. He was with Daniel in the lion’s den and with Jonah in the belly of the great fish. He became flesh as Jesus and died on the cross and then he left his Spirit to be with us until he returns.
He is with us always. Immanuel.
What if Christmas meant more of a focus on the greatest gift we’ve ever received, instead of the gifts under the tree?
What if we found ourselves falling on our knees in worship because our Lord is here with us now?
What if our “reason for the season” was making Christ known?
So yes, sing your Christmas songs. Enjoy your Bing Crosby and Michael Buble and Justin Bieber, but remember why we sing, who we celebrate, and what an amazing gift we were given.
Song: Mary, Did You Know?
Prayer: The Gift of Gifts