"God with Us"

(An updated version of this entry is posted on “Escape from Averageness” every year at Christmas)

The intrepid, results-based consultant wearily settled into one of the chairs in the airport club of the airline she was flying this trip. Thursday evening, she thought to herself, should make it home without any problem.

“Where are you headed?”, asked the man in the chair beside her.

“Home.”

Home. Simply, home. Last week of work this year. She was headed for a well-deserved break with her family and friends. She was looking forward to it, more so than usual, because family included a new member. She smiled at the thought of it.

Her cell phone rang. It was an old friend. They talked about families, and then business. “How was 2010?”, he finally asked. “And – how are you, really?”

“I tell people that the fourth year of six-figure declines in personal income has been almost as much fun as the first three”, she laughed. She was glad she still could laugh about it. “2011 will be better, but mostly because we are doing more work in financial services. But, you know – in every way that really matters – I am doing very well.”

“In that case, Merry Christmas”, he said.

“Same to you.”

Her mind turned away from work. She thought about Christmas. She wondered what Bethlehem must have been like, so long ago. She thought about the young mother and father-to-be, who had made the trip with few resources, facing an uncertain future. She thought about their now new-born son. To everyone else, he was just another faceless child born into a world controlled and protected by the Roman Empire.

She considered the grace, love, and mercy of the Creator of the universe, the Author of all that is good. She thought about the words of the apostle Paul, buried deep in his first letter to the small group of believers in Corinth, describing faith, hope, and love, the principles of the grace she pondered.

“Father”, she said softly. “Thank you.

“Thank you for giving me a faith that looks back into history and trusts that the claims this child would one day make about Himself are true, and that every moment of time and event of history either points towards, or proceeds from, that truth.

“I know that eternity means never-ending, not just someday, so, thank you for also giving me hope, a hope that looks forward from the perspective of the eternal life I have right now, but also understands that, one day, this world – with its share of both joy and pain, and varying degrees of fulfillment – will end, and I will live, constantly and eternally, in your presence.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant smiled, thinking about the final point of gratitude, considering how everyone already viewed her as a practical, in-the-moment realist.

“Yes – and thank you for giving me a love that sustains me, motivates me, and gives me purpose and perspective, until either Christ returns or you call me home.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about the events of that night, long ago. There was a birth. There would later be a death and a resurrection. But, right now, her thoughts were about newness and life.

“And you shall call his name Immanuel.”

“God with us.”