by Dave Gustavsen

God with Us: A Message of Hope on Christmas Eve
Dave Gustavsen

Good evening. As we gather tonight, we need to be honest and say that our world has become a pretty dark place. Not that there aren’t any good things happening-because there are. But it’s hard to deny the reality of mass shootings, and refugees, and racial tension in our own country. There’s a lot of darkness, right?

So in the midst of all that, how do you celebrate Christmas? I think we have two choices. The first option is: we can distract ourselves from the darkness. We can drown our sorrows with eggnog and Elf. When we hear depressing news on TV, we can turn up the Christmas carols louder.

But there’s another option. We can fully acknowledge the world’s darkness, and let our hearts break for the suffering in this world, BUT, at the same time, allow ourselves to believe that what happened on that first Christmas contains the power to bring light into the darkness. Because it really does.

About 700 years before the birth of Christ, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke about the coming Messiah. He said: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. That word ‘‘Immanuel’’ means ‘‘God with us.’’ And on that glorious night when Jesus was born, that promise was kept. As crazy as it sounds, God entered into the very world he had created…as a weak human being-so he could be with us. He walked this earth for about 33 years-showing us how we’re supposed to live. And then he went to the cross, to absorb God’s judgment for all the ways we haven’t lived the way we’re supposed to live. And three days after that, the greatest miracle of all time: he rose from the grave.

And one of the last things he ever said to his followers was this-he gathered them all together, and he told them to continue the mission he had started, and then he made this promise: ‘‘I will be with you always, to the very end.’’ So the same Jesus who ...

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