As a child, I loved Christmas Eve. It was always full of motion and sometimes a bit of commotion. My favorite memories are of preparing meals with my parents. My mother’s kitchen was like Santa’s workshop. We’d sing and rock along to my dad’s old Christmas records like BB King’s “Christmas Comes But Once A Year“ or Charlie Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas.” Peeling, chopping, stuffing, and of course tasting - everyone had a job to do, and every job was important. Our Christmas Eve productions made Time stop to give us the gift of togetherness. I knew I was loved. I knew I was blessed. I knew joy.
Dr. Jim Wilder, a psychologist and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who studies the intersection between neurology and theology, says that the brain experiences joy when there is a sense that someone is glad to be with you – a sense that someone loves you. A few weeks ago, I had a terrible migraine. It happened while I was driving home with my daughter, Bethany. I did not feel comfortable driving, so I pulled over and called my parents to come and meet us. As Beth and I sat in the truck waiting for them to arrive, she rubbed my neck and my husband talked to us on the phone until help arrived. Although the headache lasted for two days, I felt peace knowing that my family was glad to be with me. I was not alone.
Joy is a deep assurance that transcends our circumstances and embraces God’s truth – we are never alone. Is it any wonder that Jesus’ name would hold such power and communicate such profound revelation? Is it any wonder that He would be called, “Immanuel, which means, God with us?" This Christmas Eve wherever you are and whatever you are doing - know that God is with you. He is glad to be with you. “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people” Psalm 149:4. Know that God loves you. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The gift of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, is our most treasured gift in any season of life - seasons of celebration and seasons of brokenness – God is with us. The power of His presence lives in us.
My prayer for you and your family this Christmas Eve and all year through is that you experience the Joy of knowing Immanuel – God with us.