PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The coming month of December promises to be fun for even a novice sky-watcher. Soon we will be treated to nightly shows of the Geminids, the greatest of all meteor showers, raining 120 multi-colored meteors per hour across our sky. Our closest neighbor, Mercury, will visit nightly on the western horizon just after sunset; red Mars will swing closer to us than any other time in the year. It will be a lot to see!
But how can we know this, or be certain of such cosmic predictions? How can scientists tell the angle of the moon’s orbit and effect on tides 2,000 years from now? Today’s scripture tells us how; it is because Jesus Immanuel is the glue of the universe, who “is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Jesus. He is the power holding all things together, including you! “He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3a).
Jesus is why you are here. He is holding you together in this very moment! You would not be here without Him. You would not live, move, or have your being without Him (Acts 17:28). Saint Augustine rightly exclaimed: “I could not exist then, O my God, could not exist at all, unless you were in me. Or should I not rather say, I could not exist unless I were in you, from whom are all things, by whom are all things, and in whom are all things.” (Saint Augustine, Confessions) Immanuel staggers the imagination!
He who has been God with us from the creation literally takes all humanity to Himself in His birth. He is the Creator who refuses to walk away from His creation, or abandon us to the darkness. In the manger the Creator comes to be our Lover. By becoming fully human with us, God embraces us in His love.
In unbounded, infinite love, God joins Himself to us as Immanuel. He is no stranger to our fallen race but grows in amniotic fluid, struggles His way through a birth canal, gasps for His first breath and cries. The Son of God comes to us in diapers, learns to crawl and then walk, matures in wisdom, years, and in divine and human favor (Luke 2:52). Immanuel never ceases to be God though He is 100% human, confined within the limitations of our humanity and living in full reliance on the Father. He comes down to restore us to the dignity from which we have fallen. We belong to Him. He refuses to abandon us. but comes to claim us for Himself. His love owns us. He takes our history and gives us His. He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness. He gives His life to us even at the cost of His death. Scottish theologian and churchman Thomas Torrance so aptly says it:
“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation…He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.” (Thomas Torrance, The Mediation of Christ)
By taking to Himself our broken humanity with all of our guilt, shame, and rebellion, our Creator and Savior holds us close in His love. Immanuel loves us with a love from which nothing in life or death can ever separate us (Romans 8:38-39). As you look at the Geminids meteor shower or the planet Mars showing off on the horizon, know that Immanuel loves you. You were made for Him, as “all things have been created through him and for him.” Immanuel will never let you go!
CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within.
REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me.