Christmas is over. The gifts which looked so pretty under the tree just a few days ago are now scattered in messes around the house. Decorations which raised our spirits last week are now taunting us to take them down. Vacation days have ended and we are back at work, with more to do than before we left. The overeating of delicious treats has begun to take its toll on the fit of our pants. We are in the post-Christmas let-down.
Are we doomed to feeling a let-down around this time every year?
Decorations come down. Cheery carols are no longer played on the radio. Gifts are done being exchanged. If Christmas is about these things, the let-down is difficult to avoid.
But Christmas is not about these things. Christmas is really a celebration of Immanuel: God with us. We celebrate Immanuel at Christmas, because, as Matthew 1 points out, Jesus’ birth fulfills this promise.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”) – Matthew 1:22-23
However, this celebration does not end at Christmas. It did not even end when Jesus left this earth. Just as the first chapter of Matthew fulfilled the promise of God with us, the last chapter of Matthew continues it. Jesus’ final words are:
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:20
Immanuel is a truth that never changes. There does not need to be a post-Christmas let-down. We can celebrate the truth of Immanuel every day of the year.
We celebrate the truth of Immanuel first by remembering what it says about God.
Immanuel is the truth of a God whose deep desire is to be with His beloved for eternity. The truth of Immanuel is the truth of a Father who loves us so ferociously that He sent His Only Son to this earth. It is the truth of a Son who chose to live out every piece of the human experience, including the fragile life of a newborn, and the humble death of a criminal. It is the truth of a Spirit who lives inside of us and guides our daily lives.
We celebrate the truth of Immanuel second by remembering what it says about us. That we can live like God is with us.
That we can live according to how the Bible calls us to live, because God is with us. That we can pray about anything at anytime, because God is with us. That we can have the courage to face our fears, because God is with us. That we can love others more than we thought possible, because God is with us. That we can have forgiveness from our mistakes, because God is with us. That we can have purpose and meaning in our lives, because God is with us.
Christmas may be over. But the celebration of Immanuel can happen every day. It happens every time we approach God with confidence in His love. It happens every time we put the needs of others ahead of the needs of ourselves. It happens every time we root our identity in what God says and not what the world says.
The birth of Jesus did not just change the world once a year. It changed the world forever.
God is with us. Always. Immanuel means there is no post Christmas let-down.