Like many of you I've been reading the Christmas narratives these days. I've been struck by what I would call the progressive presence of GOD with his people. Don't let the phrase "progressive presence" scare you nor cause you to call me a heretic. I'll try to explain my thoughts. In the Old Testament we read that God was with his people. Many of us know about the pillar of fire and the cloud that led the people of Israel in their journey to the promised land. We also know about the shekinah glory cloud that rested in/on the Temple and then, sadly, departed (Ezekiel 10). So there was this sense of God being with the people. Then came the 400 silent years with no prophetic voice to the people. That silence was broken with the birth narratives of John and our Lord. When Christ was born he was Immanuel, God WITH US, in the flesh, in person (Matt. 1). God was no longer the God who was with us but out there.....He was with us and, as John records in I John 1, we touched him, held him, and heard him. It must have been incredible to see and touch Jesus. But at the end of our Lord's ministry as he was heading to the cross he promised that he would send the third person of the Godhead to live in us! Paul writes in Colossians 1:27 that Christ is in us. Further, Eph. 1:14 says that we have not only been indwelt by the Spirit but sealed by the Spirit and his presence is the guarantee of our full redemption. So the progressive presence of God is the God who was with his people but out there, the God who has come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, but now the God who lives in his people! Regardless of what is or isn't under the tree this year as believers in Christ we have received the greatest gift, Christ IN US the hope of glory. Merry Christmas!! Sometimes we can be discouraged by grief because of who is missing at Christmas. I understand that feeling. Can we be reminded who is present in us? Sometimes we may be in a financial place where we don't give nor receive many presents. Can we be reminded about who is present in us? I read, with some sadness, about an individual who is grieving this Christmas. The way he framed his Christmas was, "My Christmas is gone." Brothers and sisters my Christmas is inside me and will never be gone, he will never leave me nor forsake me, he is my shield, my tower, my stronghold, my righteousness, my friend who sticks closer than a brother, and he is my comforter, my guide, my everything........ and if you're a believer he is the same to you and for you. Christ lives in us, Merry Christmas.
Dr. Hal Irvine, Senior Pastor