One of my favorite names for Jesus is “Emmanuel” – God with us (Isaiah 7:14). I like to remind myself often that, no matter the stress or strain, God is with me! Ah, it’s profound. It describes the longing of God’s heart for a deep, abiding relationship with us. As we celebrate Christ this week – worship Jesus as Emmanuel – but also join Him in bringing His presence to others. This is, after all, God’s desire for you. That you would bring the presence of Jesus to others.
This Christmas may look very different for you as far as gathering with family and friends. This year, more than ever, you can literally feel the groaning of others for Christ. It becomes a wonderful opportunity to offer your full, undistracted, unhurried presence to others. How do you do that when you might not be able to be physically present?
Treasure moments and memories. Even if you can’t be together in person, treasure the moments on Zoom or on the phone with the people you love. Reflect back and make it your goal to help people feel valued and loved.
With the chaos of the first Christmas, Mary could have felt discouraged and completely defeated, but scripture tells us that she “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke2:19). Think about it. A long donkey ride in her final week of pregnancy. Sounds terrible, right?! A very uncomfortable birth in a dirty, smelly barn. A troupe of Shepherds for unexpected company. Yet, Mary had the wisdom to treasure the entire chaotic situation. She had the wisdom to know that God was doing something new!
This Christmas step away from the chaos for a few moments to treasure what God is doing.
Take time to listen. One of the most effective ways to be the presence of Christ to others is to offer incarnational listening. Let others experience Christ in how you listen. If you have children in the home, be attentive. Spend time listening to your kid’s hearts. Play games. Ask questions. Be silly. Have fun and seek to connect. Help your child feel the love of Christ through you.
If you are an empty nester, ask your adult kids how you can pray for them, and then listen. No advice. Just listen. Feel their hearts in their words and bring your concerns to God. If you have aging parents, ask them questions about memories and listen to their responses. If you can’t be together physically, use Zoom or FaceTime. Make each person you converse with feel loved and cherished this Christmas.
Turn your thoughts to Him. Many Christmas Eve services have been canceled or are only virtual. It’s a wonderful opportunity to remember that worship can take place in your heart continually. Train your soul to whisper small prayers of worship throughout the day. Every problem becomes a prompt to turn to the Wonderful Counselor. Every gift becomes an inspiration to praise and give thanks. Make it your goal to remember His presence moment by moment.
Friend, this Christmas may look different, but view it as an invitation from God to pivot in your thinking. Join Jesus in bringing His presence to a hurting world. Let others experience His love and grace through you! Treasure moments and memories, take time to listen, and turn your thoughts to Him continually.
As we approach the end of the year, would you consider giving a gift to Harling Leadership? Your year-end gift helps us engage and encourage leaders not only from the States but around the world.
Merry Christmas to each of you! I pray that you will experience the presence of Christ in every aspect of your lives this year!