Monday, January 5, 2009

The 12th Day of Christmas

Joshua 1:1-9
v. 9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you whereve you go.

On this last day of Christmas we read from the beginning of the book of Jesus' ancestor and namesake, Joshua (Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua). In verse 9 is spoken as good a summary of the consequence of the good news of Christmas as one can come by. "For God is with you wherever you go." This is the God who has been revealed as "Emmanuel," "God is for us," or "God is with us."

This good news does require something of us, and really quite a significant thing. We have to constantly "be strong and courageous" and not "frightened or dismayed." Some days this is easier said then done. It is hard to choose strength over fear some days. And some days dismay gets the best of our courage. We are required to choose to live toward strength and courage, however, come what may.

The good news is not so much that we can do this choosing--some days we are better at it then others--but that God has already chosen to be our God, and this will never change. God will always be "Emmanuel." The incarnation was not a temporary thing--God putting on human clothes to teach us a lesson. Jesus remains "truly human," we believe, which is to say that God always stays on our side.

If some days we find this hard to believe, that is only natural. Those days we have to rely on the promises of God, rather than our own abilities, and if we can't even go that far, then we can depend on the other great gift of Christmas, which is one another. If you can't believe today, I will believe for you, but I may very well need for you to return the favor tomorrow.

We sung in Advent, "O come, O come Emmanuel." Emmanuel has come, and Emmanuel remains for ever.

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