Jesus, Emmanuel, welcome to our world. Welcome to our world of so much beauty.
As you grow older, your parents will show you the green fields of Galilee. They will introduce you to the vivid colors of the lilies of the field. They will take walks with you by green pastures and still waters. They will tell you unbelievable stories about your many faith ancestors; stories about Abraham, Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Naomi, David, Isaiah, and all the prophets. They will teach you songs of the Psalmists; songs of thanksgiving and songs of praise that point us to a loving God who created this world and called it good.
But they will also tell you about the Romans and many other kingdoms of the world who have oppressed your people, including many stories of how Israel has not been faithful in being the people God has called them to be. You will hear about the glory days of your ancestor, David but also how his kingdom split in two leading to internal fighting and a divided kingdom. You will be taught Psalms of lamentations where the Psalmist will cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” And there will be people telling you to fight against the Romans and resist. And others will tell you that nothing can be done and that there is little hope.
Jesus, Emmanuel, welcome to our world of so much beauty but also of so much pain, brokenness, longing, and suffering. This is the world in which you are born. Some things have never changed.
But your name is Jesus. Your name is Emmanuel. You are the the promised Messiah, the long awaited King who will usher in a new kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace.
As we prepare to light and lift our candles in honor of your birth tonight, we pray that your kingdom would shine through each one of us, a kingdom where all are welcomed, a kingdom where those in low estate are raised up, a kingdom where the prisoners are set free, a kingdom where love overcomes hate.
Jesus, Emmanuel, we want to be part of your kingdom even as we pray the prayer that you taught us to say together, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”