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The Presence Changes The World

• Shawna Boren

Our modern lives tend to get so busy that our everyday realities can keep us from seeing and experiencing that God loves us and is always with us. Emmanuel means “God with us”, and while it may sound a bit surreal, the Christmas story is as true today as it was on that first Christmas – God IS here with us!

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Movies are often written, filmed, and released as a series, where the first movie sets the stage for the sequel. If we applied that notion to the Bible, where the Old Testament was the first movie and the sequel begins with the Christmas story, here’s how it might look:

The first movie would surely be an epic film – the story of a powerful God is told through the creation story, the fall, the flood, the captivity of an entire nation, the Exodus, the Kings, the building of the Temple, the prophets… We’d surely be awed by such an epic movie, and would probably expect the sequel to really blow our minds. But then the preview to the sequel of the first movie is released, and the preview shows us nothing more than a young peasant girl learning that she is pregnant, and her future peasant husband being told in a dream not divorce her. These quaint scenes might seem like the antithesis of the epic scenes of the first movie – instead of continuing to tell the stories of nations and famines and wars, the preview shows us nothing but a couple of young nobodies. Would we even care to see the sequel after such a boring preview?

We would if we understood the whole story, because these seemingly insignificant events are how that Mighty God of the first movie became flesh and blood himself, and came to live among us! In the sequel, God is now “up close and personal” – and that changes everything!

You and I get to experience God with us, day in and day out. But we have a problem, because we don’t always see this, or live our lives in such a way as to experience the truth of this. We get busy, our lives get mundane, our struggles keep us from seeing Emmanuel – “God with us”. So we accept the subtle lies that keep us from realizing that we’re in the presence of God Almighty. “Why would God be with me? I’m just a nobody… I’m in a dark place… I’m not doing the things I should…” And we begin to live our lives as though God is NOT with us. In the midst of our daily lives, we forget the Christmas story – Emmanuel HAS come to us! God IS with us!

We all feel separated from God at times – but we have to remember that the very fact that we’re here means that we and God have come together in the same place. He has come to us. He did not come to the powerful or the strong or the righteous – he came to all of us because he loves all of us. Surely we have made some bad choices, surely there are times when we find ourselves in dark and lonely places. But while these may be a part of our reality, the lie is that these things have led to God deserting us. The Word has become flesh and dwells among us – that IS the Truth! That is OUR Truth! Emmanuel – God IS with us!

We were not created to be tossed away when we become troublesome. God is in covenant with us! It cost him a lot to be with us, but he paid that price in full because he loves us! He’s committed to us! He doesn’t demand perfection from us, he desires a loving relationship with us!

There is a deeper truth in the everyday reality of our lives: God is there while we’re commuting to work; God is there while we’re working hard to support our family; God is there while we’re taking out the trash; God is there while we’re hanging out with our kids…

We all feel unworthy of God at times, but God is right here with us because he loves us. We all can experience his freedom. We all can learn to see ourselves as he sees us. We all can be changed – transformed – by Him! Don’t get so wrapped up in your daily realities that you miss the truth of the Christmas story: God has come to live with us!

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Topics: Joy, Love, Peace, Presence of God

Sermon Series: The Night That Changes The World


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 2:13-20 (NIV)

    In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

    Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

    “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

    The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

    “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

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