My favorite name for God.

Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Sin separates. Our pride and selfishness makes it hard for us to love God or one another. The drift of our lives is apart–to separateness and isolation, and it takes tremendous redemptive action to move toward–to togetherness and community.

After the rebellion in the Garden of Eden–the place of intimacy between God and Humans and man and wife, Adam and Eve are banished. They have to leave.

The rest of the story is about recovering intimacy–restoring relationship, and a return home.

And it’s expensive. Very expensive. It costs God the Father his One and Only Son.

The Old Testament is a collection of stories that foreshadows Christmas. Over and over again, the text tells us God was with ___________ (fill in the blank with your favorite Old Testament character, or with the whole nation of Israel). But all these stories are incomplete–awaiting their fulfillment in Christ–until Immanuel crosses the gap, moving toward us rebels with one aim: Reconciliation.

So, Christmas is about togetherness–withness.

May Immanuel be especially close to you and yours. May the reconciliation offered in the Gospel restore broken relationships. May our loneliness and isolation be overcome by the promise of togetherness.

O Come, O Come, Immanuel.