We have reached the final week of January. There are still a couple of homes in our neighborhood with Christmas lights in the yard. But most of us have packed away Christmas. Our holiday decorations are put away, but I didn’t pack away the baby Jesus. I am just now ending my Christmas season and looking forward to every season ahead.
A few weeks before Christmas, Jim preached a sermon that kept returning to my mind. A week before Christmas, I realized that God was speaking to me for a reason. As a result, I set aside the time I was using for writing the Wisdom Matters entries in January and I completed the Advent devotional for Christmas 2023 instead!
Our staff is excited because they have almost a whole year to edit, set it, and prep it to send out. I’m excited because I know the words are what God asked me to write.
But, what I’m most excited about is all that God has taught me as I studied to write. The theme of this year’s Advent book will be Immanuel, God with us. The month of January has been a constant reminder of why Christmas happened in the first place.
The God of the universe wanted to “dwell” with us. Jesus, Immanuel, is God’s Spirit taking up residence in our daily lives. The baby Jesus didn’t remain a baby. Christmas was always about Easter. Easter was always about eternity.
We have packed away our Nativity sets, and the baby Jesus is probably in your attic. That’s okay. Jesus wasn’t born to only be the baby in a manger. He was born to be our Savior on the cross and Immanuel, the Spirit of Christ dwelling in our lives.
Mary and Joseph woke up with Jesus
Mary and Joseph spent the months after Christ’s birth caring for the baby Jesus every day. We know Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Mary and Joseph woke up when Jesus did. They carried Jesus until he could walk. We know they met with the Magi when Jesus was probably a toddler and quickly escaped with their baby to Egypt after Joseph was warned in a dream that King Herod wanted Jesus dead.
We wrap our baby Jesus in tissue so we can pack him away. Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes when he was born. She then wrapped him in a blanket so they could escape to Egypt in the middle of the night. She and Joseph made certain Jesus was fed, clothed, cared for, and protected for many years to come. They made certain Jesus was presented at the temple when he was a baby and took him there again when he was twelve.
Jesus, Immanuel, dwelt daily with Mary and Joseph. Jesus wants to dwell in our lives daily as well. It is good to move on from Christmas. In fact, the road from Bethlehem leads to Jerusalem and the road Jesus walked as he carried the cross. That road leads to the Mount of Ascension, which leads to his return as the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. Immanuel is our daily celebration of the continued presence of God in our lives. He truly is our daily dwelling place.
Mary and Joseph woke up each day with Jesus and we should too.
Jesus is the reason for every season
New Year’s Day is a celebration that God gives us new beginnings.
Valentine’s Day reminds us that God is perfect, holy love.
St. Patrick’s Day reminds us that God has called us and blessed us to serve and care for others.
Easter is a celebration of God’s eternal, sacrificial gift of salvation through Christ.
Memorial Day is a reminder that this life is temporary and we should live with honor and purpose.
Independence Day reminds us that God has created us and called us to live with freedom.
Halloween reminds us that evil exists but Jesus overcomes evil through his saints.
Veteran’s Day reminds us that sacrifice is a reality of life.
Thanksgiving is about rejoicing over our blessings and the constant care God provides in our lives.
And Christmas is about remembering the humility and love of God, who would take on flesh and dwell with us, revealing the nature of God and his love for all mankind.
There isn’t a season of the year or of our lives that is without the daily presence of Immanuel. The Lord has been the dwelling place for all generations for those who will embrace him as their everlasting God.
Are you continuing your celebration of Christ with Christmas joy, Valentine’s love, St. Patrick’s witness, Easter’s sacrifice, and Thanksgiving’s gratitude?
Will you unpack the Christ of Christmas and allow him to dwell with you during each season of the year?
From “everlasting to everlasting,” he is Immanuel, God with us.
It has been a good January because I spent the month thinking about the deep truths of the Christmas season. The baby in the manger is Immanuel, God choosing to physically “dwell” in our world. It has been profound to think about the fact that Jesus dwells in my life now and is just as real to me as the baby Jesus was to Mary and Joseph.
Jesus is God incarnate. The Holy Spirit is the presence of Immanuel in my life.
Mary carried Jesus in her arms. Christians carry Jesus in their hearts and in their witness.
I don’t usually like January very much but I really enjoyed January this year. I spent it with Immanuel and he spent it with me. I don’t want to “pack him away.” I want to spend February—and every other month of 2023—with him!
Our daily connection to Immanuel
Jesus taught us to pray each day saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9–13).
The words are so familiar to us that they might have lost their profound truth in our lives. Jesus taught us how to pray so that we could be reminded each day of God’s presence and work in our lives.
If you are a Christian, the everlasting God indwells you. He is the baby Jesus. He is Jesus dying for your sins on the cross. He is Jesus ascending to heaven. He is the Holy Spirit who indwells your life.
If you packed away the baby Jesus after Christmas, consider unwrapping him and giving him the highest place of honor in your homes and lives.
Pray the Lord’s prayer and draw near to God. He will surely draw near to you.
Like Moses, you can say, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. . . . From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:1–2).
Like Mary and Joseph, you can wake up with Jesus each day.
Like those gathered in the Upper Room, you can be filled with the Spirit of Christ each day.
Jesus is and always will be Immanuel, the everlasting God, with you.