In the Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) God's sign of love, fidelity and power comes in the virgin birth of a baby Isaiah calls Emmanuel. The word means "God with us." Another way to say this is to say, "God is present ... here!"
For those who love the darkness, revel in evil and thrive by taking life from others, this is bad news. Because God is light, life, justice and good. But for those who seek God's kingdom, God's plan, God's purpose, God's mission and God's leading, this is very good news indeed. In fact, that is what Gospel really means in the Greek ... the good news!
Isaiah spoke the words God had given him when he used the word Emmanuel. The God that is here is in stark contrast to a God that is distant or disassociated. For us this should tell us something about both the nature and purpose of God.
God's nature is to be part of the ongoing drama of life. His presence with us should lead us, comfort us and embolden us as we do life. If God is here, I am never alone! I have spoken to many who are serving our sentences in jail who have told me that they feel and experience God's presence. Many say that they know God is there and that His presence is greater than when they were outside. Good news indeed!
But God's presence is also manifested as God's purpose is sent into the world. Moses said God was bringing people "to Himself." God draws, leads, drags (with me I have personally felt this), invites and beckons His children. The Wesleyan belief is that God is doing this to everyone ... not just an entitled few. And we, as the Church, are one of the ways God "sends" His purpose.
My urging to you, as Christmas is upon us, is to be ready to be called and used by the God that is here. We will celebrate this with a trip to Tent City (NOON till 2 pm) on Christmas Eve. We will invite all Christ followers to Come-And-Go Communion from 4-7 pm on Christmas Eve. We will sing and enjoy music and message as we gather for the beauty of the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 pm. But we will remember that events are not our purpose ... our purpose is to be used by God so that people will be led to God ... into His perfect and relevant presence ... into being sons and daughters in His Kingdom. For God is with us ... present ... here! AMEN