I can’t quite believe it is nearly Christmas again. Another whole year gone by! This year the Church of England is putting on a publicity campaign to encourage people to reflect on what Christmas is really about and ideally, to come to Church. It goes under the title #God with Us.
The title is an interesting one. It is, of course, what the name ‘Emmanuel’ means, but it is much more than that because it captures one of the most distinctive Christian beliefs – the belief that in the birth of Jesus God came to live among us in human form. It is an extraordinary claim in itself but it implies much more too.
Among people who believe in God, some may think of Him as in heaven, looking down on us, or others may see God somewhere else but over against us, perhaps waiting to catch us doing something we shouldn’t. Instead, Christianity says that the idea that God is with us wasn’t just about Jesus’s lifetime on earth but is true of God at all times and in all places. In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury,
“The constant refrain of Christmas, in carols and readings, is that God is with us. In whatever situations you find yourself this Christmas, God is with you – you need only turn to him and ask to know his presence”.
And not just with us but on our side, wanting the best for us and from us. And that is something that Christians down the centuries in all sorts of situations have found incredibly comforting and supportive. It springs of course from the Christian view that the true nature of God is love and that He loves all His children all year round.
So while Christmas is a great time to celebrate, the good news of ‘God with us’ goes on not only into January but throughout the year.
Happy Christmas! May we all be aware of God with us.