PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.
In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Did you know that more couples will get engaged this Christmas than any other time of year? It seems that Christmas is more romantic than even Valentine’s Day. Mistletoe inspires more than a kiss.
There is something about Christmas time that makes us want to get closer to loved ones and friends. “Home Alone” is more than a Christmas movie; it is a fear we have endured through two years of COVID isolation. We hear the Christmas music, see the decorations, and feel the urge, the need, to get together. Just look at the Christmas parties and dinners, the getting together for eggnog, and dropping off gifts. We try to be home for Christmas as something deep within longs for intimacy and oneness. Come Christmas and even Scrooge will realize he wants a dinner invitation and to care for Tiny Tim. We all share this mystery of being drawn together that has a lot more to it than scented candles, snow falling and a cozy fire.
How do we explain this longing for relationship, this wanting to enjoy life with others? Jeff Imbach, in his book, The River Within, calls this “God’s life flowing through us. It is nothing less than the infinite life shared by God, it is the presence of God. The vibrant, flowing love-filled life of the Trinity.”
This longing for togetherness has to do with how God created us. God did not want us to be alone. God created us in His image, a Trinity of relationship, so that we too are hard-wired for relationship. From eternity, God purposed to draw us into the communion that Father, Son and Holy Spirit share as the one true God. God longs for us to be with Him and He with us.
We see this in today’s scripture in which Jesus talks with His disciples on the night before He lays down His life. They are frightened by the news that Jesus is leaving them. But He promises His presence with them in His resurrection: “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
Here is mystery! Here is wonder! Here is Immanuel! Jesus is in the Father; we are in Jesus; and Jesus is in us! This means that life is more wondrous than we can imagine. The Son of God became human to lift us up into the communion of life He shares with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Immanuel longs to be with us and show us that the Father loves us with the love He has for Jesus. As theologian Michael Jinkins describes it: “Through the self-giving of Jesus Christ, through God’s self-emptying assumption of our humanity, God shares God’s own inner life and being in communion with us, uniting us to Himself by the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the God who is Love brings us into a real participation in the eternal life of God.” (Michael Jinkins, Invitation to Theology)
The Son of God comes to us as Immanuel, so that we might be with Him in knowing the Father, as He knows the Father. That is why on the day of His resurrection Jesus directs Mary Magdalene to go and tell His friends, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father” (John 20:17).
Jesus comes as Immanuel, God is with us, so that today we live in union with Him as branches to the Vine (John 15:1-5) and body members to their Head (Ephesians 5:30). The Christian life is becoming more and more aware that we are in Jesus, Jesus is in us, and we are together in the Father. It will take eternity to reveal to us the glory and wonder of this! But today, that longing we feel to get together and to enjoy life together, is the love-filled life of the Trinity stirring within us. Only God can satisfy the deep, deep longing we are feeling. It is a longing for Immanuel.
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.