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 of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. “All this too place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us).
The story of the Bible is a story of presence. We began in the garden with God, then sin drove us out of God’s presence. But the Old Testament is a story of God tracking down his people, and showing them his presence is tents and tabernacles, in pillars of smoke and columns of flame. He wants to be with us again.
And that story culminates in today — Christmas, because today we celebrate that the presence of God has found us again, in the form of a baby boy. This is Emmanuel — God with us. In the body of a small baby, the presence of the infinite God who set the stars in motion is here with us. This is a fantasy tale unlike any other.
This is a story you couldn’t make up if you tried — and it’s true. God is near, God is here — and nothing will ever be the same.