"It’s really sad, mom, that this bird had to die in the cold like that.”
A nuthatch frozen in the snow found by this boy of mine. Stiff and lifeless he cradles it in his cupped hands and shakes his head.
“It’s sad, I know”, I tell him. “We’ll warm him up anyway and give him a place of rest outside.”
All four candles stand lit on our table now and all five children gather round me each night and we read and eat and open another little window of our chocolate Advent calendar.
Being married to a lineman means I spend many nights doing the reading and the tucking and the singing and the back rubbing alone. And many days doing the wood stacking and the story listening and the correcting of rambunctious boys as well. The Lord sustains me time and again.
It’s less than two days before Christmas and a winter storm is brewing like a big pot of stew right outside my window. We wait and listen for the wind to blow just hard enough to knock out the glow of the Christmas tree and change our plans again.
But even the darkness won’t stop the light from getting through. I’m reminded in my soul; Emmanuel, God is with us.
Not God was with us. But God is with us.
It’s easy to remember him as a baby born in a stable many years ago and change his name to, God was with us. But He is the God of today and of right now, of this hour and of your story and mine.
Emmanuel is, God here right now.
The God who is with us now and working in the secret ways of hearts shifting and eyes clearing, open to His call.
Because without him even the softest of hearts can feel as frozen and lifeless as a dead nuthatch in a child’s hands.
He is here and He is working an unbelievable story in your life, even when you can’t see anything happening. And even if what is happening isn’t ideal (our power is now out).
So, we wait on this darkest of dark nights with no tree lights. Three little flames flicker in our big living room and all six of our bodies huddle close and we read the story of Zechariah and Elisabeth, Cousin John and beloved Mary, tried and true Joseph, and The Wonderful baby Jesus.
In the dark I bring the light with all that’s in me through the story of a savior’s birth. They listen in without complaint to the Word brought again and again into their hearts.
And we wait, just as I know you are. Waiting for tomorrow’s light and all that comes with the Eve of a Christmas Day. And inside, all we really want for Christmas are the hands of God to cup our weary bodies and warm our frozen hearts to beating again. It's what we all really need this Christmas.
So, go ahead, in the dark of the night with the wind howling and tossing about the flakes of snow, let the cold places of your heart be cradled by the hands of the one who came to the cradle himself all those years ago.
Emmanuel, God with us.
"My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass." Psalm 102:11