It means "God with us." This time of year, we celebrate God coming to be with us in the birth of his Son, Jesus.
John wrote, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" in John 1:14. God put himself in a vessel. The Word -- Jesus, God's very best expression of himself to us -- became flesh. God was born. God grew and walked in this world. God carried our burdens to the cross where he died that we might live. God rose from the dead. And today, through his Holy Spirit, God is still with us.
What does that mean to you? Right there, where you are? What does it mean that God is with you?
At the dinner table.
Around the Christmas tree.
As you shop for just the right gift.
While planning the next meal.
After harrumphing up the stairs following a not-so-great conversation.
During a tender moment of apology.
In your car.
As you distract your toddler or deep-breathe it with your teen.
Before you say something you wish you could take back.
When you think back to how things “used to be”.
In your musings as you wonder what you might do differently.
With your extended family.
In a surprising moment of quiet.
After the bustle has ended.
When you sit alone with your thoughts.
During the realization that this year isn’t very different from the one before.
While you wait for life to get better…or just be different.
As you contemplate what is next.
What does Emmanuel mean to you?
This Christmas, whether the moment turns out just as you've hoped or whether each Advent day dribbles down into disappointment, consider Emmanuel, God with you, in whatever you face.
Emmanuel. God with us. That's what Christmas is all about.