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You and I can do Christmas and completely miss the wonder and epiphany of it all!
Today is the Day of Epiphany (January 6).
What’s an epiphany?
• a moment of sudden revelation or insight. (A light bulb moment!)
• an appearance of a divine or supernatural being.
We just celebrated Christmas, now it’s a New Year… and Jan 6th marks an event that happened thousands of years ago where philosophers travelled a long journey following a star that would lead them to Divine truth. To the One who bears the name, which I have been pondering this season, Immanuel.
To understand the meaning of the name “Immanuel” in itself is an Epiphany…
It means, “God With Us”!
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Background: The Day of Epiphany reminds us of two events: the wise men’s visit to baby Jesus and later of the day of Jesus’ baptism.
Epiphany is also one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established.
It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity was manifested: when the magi visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.
The point is… God is with us. 🙂
Recap of the story…
In 700 BC the Prophet Isaiah wrote… (Isaiah 7:14)
14 But the Lord will still show you this sign:
The young woman is pregnant
and will give birth to a son.
She will name him Immanuel.
Immanuel means “God with us!”
Read the passages below on Biblegateway.com and ask yourself,
“How is God with us today?”
“What does it mean if God is with me right now?”
And…“How does that make a difference in my personal life?”
Luke 2:1-20 – The first Christmas
Matthew 1:22-23 – 22 All this happened to make clear the full meaning of what the Lord said through the prophet:23 “The virgin will be pregnant and will give birth to a son. They will name him Immanuel.”(Immanuel means “God with us.”)
John 1:1,14 – God, the Word became flesh – 1 Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
But, how is God with us today?…
John 14:6, 16-19 – The Holy Spirit – He is that part of God that is with us here and now if we have welcomed Jesus to indeed be our Lord and Saviour.
We all have been given this gift, but some of us have left the gift under the Christmas tree and have not yet opened it. Or we have opened it, but we go on living as if we have never opened the greatest gift…
1 John 4:9-11, 19;5:4,12 – The Cross, truly the first Christmas tree. The Light of the world shone on it.
God is with us. He came as a baby boy – to hold him, cherish him, delight in him, he came humbly for you to know relationship with God.
Have you held a baby recently?
I love that God comes as a baby – a baby needs to be held with arms wide open, to be loved with a heart wide open. That is our invitation. God invites us to open our arms and our hearts to receive Him – to be God with us.
I also love that God chose to come into a messy stable with stinky animals and animal dung. You and I, will have yucky stuff happen to us in this life, but He came to be with us in it. He does not refuse to come to us in our yuck. He is there with us and He cleans it up for us.
There is nothing we can do to make our way to God, so at Christmas, God made His way to us. New life will not be found in anything we might do. New life is found only in what Jesus has done for you. Christmas is good news – God is with YOU.
This is a New Year. Are you open to inviting the Creator of the Universe who gave His son for your freedom, to be with you in every situation this upcoming year? The question isn’t: is God with you? But are you with Him??
Living for ourselves makes us overly concerned and consumed with our appearance, our success, how many likes or loves we get on FB or instagram… But, no matter the success …or likes we get, …we can still constantly feel inadequate, insecure, lonely…
But, living with God at the centre of our lives, holding Him in our hearts – makes us full! Our cup overflows! Our joy, our love, our courage overflows – we are contagious! People are drawn to us – when we are not about ourselves, but about someOne who is greater than us!
We will have people in our lives who will like us because of what we can do for them. Then, there are those who love us, because God loves us. Those people are contagious and deeply attractive, and when they dance, or even smile… it’s as if God Himself is smiling at you. I pray that you can be like that, that when people see you or hear your name, they feel the love of God Himself through you.
You and I all long for something greater, and yet we are far too easily pleased with things that do not last.
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses).
I pray with deepest emotion that you can be apart of making changes to focus our young women and men to live not as sex objects but as artists with a greater purpose and a greater message.
The lie from the beginning is that YOU are God, or things are God, or other people are God. (Gen 3:15)
But, Immanuel, God with us (the Bread of Life, who comes to us to feed us) comes to deliver us from this lie. He defeated death to rescue us and restore us. He answers the cry of our hearts – “O Come, O Come Immanuel…” which is literally… “O Come, O Come… God, Be with us!” One of the oldest Christmas Carols that is sung today was translated in the 1800’s, but written earlier!
Immanuel, God with us, came humbly as a baby but sits powerfully on His throne and offers you and I life and freedom, and His continual presence!
Imagine if you were invited to (…dance, sing, act, create… whatever you love to do) for royalty! Well, you have been! Every thing you do, you have been invited to do for someone greater! For our Creator, the King of kings, for Jesus, our Saviour, for Immanual, God with us! Dancers who dance for God in worship, dance with a greater joy and passion!
Know that He is here with you, that He loves you and smiles on you.
Picture yourself (…dancing, singing, acting, creating… doing what you love to do) and He is beaming proudly: “That’s my girl. That’s my boy! I made her or him to dance so beautifully. She/he has my great purpose. I just ask that she/he trusts me! I want to surprise her/him!”
You and I can do Christmas and completely miss the wonder and epiphany of it all!
Where do you need God right now? Where do you need to invite Him to do His mighty work? Do you have fear, shame, guilt, loneliness, grief…or even happiness, yet it is so temporary?
In this moment, let your heart be filled with God who has come and is coming again! May you not worship yourself, or others, or things, but worship Him alone, and you’ll notice how this shrinks your worries and your fears! The joy of the Lord is your strength.
A Blessing over you…
The Lord is your Shepherd. He gives you everything you need.
He leads you to rest in fields of green grass.
He leads you to streams of peaceful water to refresh your life.
He is true to His name, Jesus (Saviour), Immanuel (God with us)
He leads you along the right paths.
You may walk through valleys as dark as death, but you don’t need to be afraid.
God is with you. His shepherd’s rod makes you feel safe.
He treats you to a feast, while your enemies watch.
He honours you as His guest, and He fills His cup until it overflows.
His kindness and love will always be with you each day of your life,
and You may live forever in God’s house, in His presence.
I’d like to play for you…
One of the oldest Christmas Carols that is sung today, written in the 1800’s: O Come, O Come Immanuel… (God with us).
And as it is played, let His presence and love overwhelm you. Open your heart to Him…
It is written in old language, so let me share with you what it is literally saying in a prayer I once prayed over my church family a few years ago…
Lord of Might, you gave us your perfect law from Mt Sinai to protect us from self-harm. You raised the bar high for us because of your great love, and then you came as our rescuer from the family tree of Jesse, defeating the enemy, bringing victory over the grave.
Jesus, you are our Dayspring, our dawn, our sunrise. Jesus you send away the clouds of the night and send away the dark shadows of death to retreat. Jesus, you make a way wide open to heaven safely and you shut the road to misery.
O Lord Jesus, God with us, you came to rescue your people out of slavery, out of lonely bondage. And you are here with us now. You have appeared. Allow us to see you in our life today, to see your nudgings, your promptings – through people, events and your Word. Prevent us from overlooking your Godly authority in all things and help us to know deeply that we are rescued and not alone. We receive your love through the Christmas miracle. We receive your love this day. Open our hearts to worship you, Lord Jesus, for you came for each of here today. Amen.
(Take a listen…)
Surprise us Lord, with your presence here today. Pour your Spirit on each reader to come to understand their incredible value – that you love each one and enjoy each one – so much that you broke into history 2015 years ago to be the Saviour of the world. You moved into our broken neighbourhood that first Christmas and you paid the price that first Easter, so that we can be rescued. You smile when we live for you! You delight in us! When we dance or sing or play or work, may we do it with passion for you! And with that passion, we can show your light and your rescuing love to the world around us. Thank you for your passion for us, God with us, so that we can (…dance, sing, act, create…) and live in passion for far greater things than what we see around us. We dance and live for you King of Kings.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Songs to further bless you as you reflect that God is with you…