The Rev. Darrell Brazell, pastor, New Hope Fellowship, 1449 Kasold Drive:
Alone. Afraid. Facing darkness, memories of trauma and the unknown. We all struggle here. It’s why we often insist on background noise: music, television, anything to distract. Anything to keep us so busy we don’t have to face our deepest fear — alone. I see it all the time as I walk with people through traumatic places. Our deepest fear is not the pain but the fact that we believe we were and are utterly alone.
That’s why the real miracle of Christmas is “God with us.” “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Think about it: the Creator of the universe, the Holy One, Almighty God — with us? With us in the form of an infant placed in the care of a couple that was undoubtedly young (Joseph was likely 17 and Mary 14 or younger), dirt poor and most certainly outcasts because of the scandalous pregnancy.
Why? Because God wanted to emphasize a critical point. The message we have all heard, and with which we struggle most intensely, isn’t true. We are not alone. We are never alone because Immanuel came to “be with us.” There has never been a moment in any of our lives where Immanuel has not been with us. The problem is that the pain, struggle and confusion of this life often prevent us from perceiving His presence. Yet He is here.
I see it often. I see Immanuel open people’s eyes and hearts to see Him, and then, even the most painful memories undergo an amazing transformation. Nothing in the circumstance changes yet everything is different. Why? Because Immanuel shows us we are not alone.
The real miracle of Christmas is “God with us.”
— Send email to Darrell Brazell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Robert Leiste, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.:
A song came to mind that captures the mood of the times in which we live or shop: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” In this song the reason for being good, especially around Christmas, is “getting” presents. Such is not the miracle for the season.
The miracle of Christmas to me is the giving. It the giving by God of his son that started the season. The gift was most precious, the coming of his son into this world. There was a purpose to this gift: his death on the cross and resurrection so that God could continually give us his good gifts. Out of this gift of Jesus we have the greatest gifts of hope, faith and love plus so many more. The miracle of Christmas is the gift of God’s son.
Out of this gift, the next miracle is that the grace of giving has continued both to people we know (don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with receiving a gift at Christmas; otherwise, someone would not have anyone to give to) and those we do not know. People still give to the kettles, which helps people they will never see. How many churches like mine are taking a collection to provide gifts for a family or senior that are financially in need? Or also like my church — we are taking a collection of Sunday school supplies and shoes that will be sent to Belize — helping those who will never be able to help back since they are so far away?
Why do we give? Because we have received the gift of God in the form of his son that brings life, forgiveness and salvation in this world.
— Send email to Robert Leiste at email@example.com.