Abide: How “Emmanuel” Means a Bold Christmas

I am adding one last, new, simple piece to the shop. This one:

(Remember, from now through January 1st, only digital prints will be available for purchase.)

I love this line in “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” And really, I love that song. (But I don’t have time to letter the whole thing… though that would be a super fun project… I’m thinking large-scale canvas- NO! No more. At least, not this year…)

My most favorite verse is this one:

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

That Jesus would come down, cast out all the darkness and replace it with his light- being born in us, is such a beautiful picture. But the reason they are great, glad tidings is because it wasn’t only a picture. It wasn’t only a nice metaphor.

Jesus came down and put on our skin… “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” The Word. I think about words, especially as I doodle and swirl them onto paper, as I see others doing that on Pinterest and Instagram, often sharing truths that cheer and encourage.

But sometimes? I think I get hung up on the presentation. The sparkle. The polish. The shine. And I miss the message. I read words like “joy” and “peace” and I hear them scattered throughout Hallmark Christmas movies as if they had as much meaning as a Christmas bauble.

But joy and peace are not ambiguous, shiny objects that only exist to be nice thoughts at Christmas time. In light of Christ, they are warriors that ready us for battle- no- for victory.

The Word came down and dwelt among us and gave all words true meaning again.

Even unbelievers sometimes unknowingly proclaim his good news. “Merry Christmas” everyone says. Did you know that the word “merry” means bold? I remember my dad talking about that one Christmas Eve service growing up. At the end of the service, he wished everyone a “Bold Christmas.”

I wish for a bold Christmas, for one that calls the darkness what it is and prepares room for Jesus. I need the Christ of Christmas to bring joy and peace to me- on December 25th? sure- but every other day of the year, too.

To call God by the name of “Emmanuel” feels bold to me. “God with us.” It’s a name only God- out of his deep love and unbelievable grace- could’ve given himself. And God- out of his deep love and unbelievable grace- he gave us Jesus. Emmanuel.

At Thanksgiving, my parents took my husband and I to see Indianapolis Repertory Theater’s renown production of A Christmas Carol. (And my word, if you can, GO see it next year!! It’s as good as it’s reputed to be!)

And among many incredible Dickensian quotes, I had to look this one up later:

But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!

God is with us, friend. Let’s let him come to us, break down the doors of our “shut up hearts” and abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel.