We say it often. Perhaps it can seem redundant to say it again, especially to claim that as we say it this time, it is especially relevant. But the words, “God with us” frame the heart of the Christian message. If this is true, we are able to say with confidence all sorts of things about the God we meet in Jesus. If it is not true, we are simply deluded people clinging to an idle tale.
C. S. Lewis said that Jesus was either a lunatic or God in the flesh. There could be no middle ground for him. If Jesus was God in the flesh, then all he said was of divine importance. If Jesus wasn’t God in the flesh, then he was delusional and his teaching and message were of little value. How would we know when Jesus was on to something or simply delusional? So, C. S. Lewis was unwilling to settle for anything less than this truth: When we meet Jesus we encounter God.
This thought goes out on Christmas Eve day. There is a lot tugging at all of us. As I write this, I still need to finish my sermons for Christmas Eve services, get food ready for family that is in town, and finish wrapping my presents (yes, at least the shopping is finished). It is easy to get pragmatic about the things that need to be done. It is also easy to lose sight of the central message of this season, which is the ground for everything else that is Christian.
In the child born in a manger, we encounter God. Yes, it is true 24/7. But Christmas approaches and with it there should be one thing at the center for all of us who claim to follow Jesus. In Christ, God is with us.