Pastor Kevin Redding
Adult Ministries Pastor, Shiloh Community Center
As some who read this know, our daughter is involved once again in The Celebration of Christmas at Dream City Church. This is her third year of being involved in it, and I love seeing how God is using her gifts and talents to help thousands of people hear the Truth of Christmas. I’ve been a proud dad as I’ve sat and watched her over the years, knowing that God is using her now and preparing her for something greater down the road.
I must confess, however, that I wasn’t thrilled when her voice teacher at the time asked her to audition for the show. Her teacher told her they were doing a scene and couldn’t find the right person to sing the solo for it, and thought she would be perfect for it (which she was). It wasn’t because of the time commitment that it would take, nor was it because it was at a different church, it was because it was in THAT show. THAT show with the flying angels. THAT show with the camels. THAT show with…wait for it…Santa. THAT show with lights and lasers and confetti and dancers and “secular Christmas songs.” (Yes, my “Baptist” was showing.)
She auditioned and got the part. She was now part of THAT show, and we are now a part of THAT show. Then, something happened to totally change my perspective. I did a memorial service. While talking to the family about the person’s faith, they said that he accepted Christ as a result of watching THAT show a couple years before. THAT show opened up conversation about Jesus and as a result, he accepted Christ. Because of THAT show, that man is now in Heaven, and his family has the assurance that they will see him again. After the last show last year, I shared that story with the Pastor of Dream City Church. Tears formed in his eyes and he said, “Thanks for sharing that with me. That’s why we do this show. If it’s not about people hearing about Jesus, it’s not worth doing. Thanks for the reminder.”
As I sat through the show once again on Sunday Night (for the who-knows how many times), I was once again reminded that through all the stuff of the Christmas Season—through the lights, the gifts, the lasers, the angels, the camels, the dancers, the parties, the sweaters, the songs—it comes down to the simple theology of Christmas. “Immanuel…God with Us”. It was prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 7:4) and fulfilled in Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25 – 18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Emphasis added) 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
Yes, there were many other aspects to this account, but the bottom line is “Immanuel…God with us.” Yes, there were shepherds, a census, angels, hustle & bustle, a manger, but they all were ancillary to “Immanuel…God with us.” Mary and Joseph were no doubt weary and overwhelmed and scared and unsure, until “Immanuel…God with us.”
This Christmas season, in the midst of all you do and feel and think, stop to experience the thrill of the season’s theology “Immanuel…God with us.” Take time to listen to my favorite Christmas song, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and remember why we celebrate. As I sit and watch night after night, I’m in continual awe of the thrill of “Immanuel, God with us.” It is no small statement. In fact it’s the “drop the mic” moment of the season—“Immanuel…God with us.”