I’ve always loved Christmas. Growing up in the snowy prairies of Canada, this was a time of endless outdoor fun. Our tradition celebrated well. Food, extended family, ice skating while celebrating the majestic and mysterious story of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us – the All Creating One becoming 100% human and pitching his tent on this planet next to our own.
The wonder surrounding this event should never get old. But what was less talked about, was how this idea of God dwelling with his people was not a singular event. It sits squarely in the center of God’s Big Story but also serves as an echo and a foreshadowing – all to highlight God’s unwavering commitment to his world.
God's desire to walk alongside his people was nothing new. Long before the nativity scene, his feet had strolled through a garden, his voice had been heard in conversation with humans, his presence had been enjoyed by all living things.
In the very early days of his Story, it was a love story that began in a garden. The Creator set in motion a rhythm of intimacy and shalom (wholeness, peace, goodness, fruitfulness - everything as it should be). God and his people would work in intimacy and unison. Together they would shape a flourishing world for the good of all creation and the glory of His name.
This had always been the plan - humanity working in harmony with their Creator, bearing his image and cultivating his world.
The coming of Jesus marked a new beginning, an echo of what had been lost, an opportunity for redemption.
Jesus’ coming also foreshadowed a coming reality. "Look,” John cries out. “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."
At the end of this chapter in history, God is coming down to earth and will restore his original intent – to make his permanent and divine home with his people. A time where everything will once again be reconciled to its rightful place, and God's people will rule and reign with him forever.
The coming of Jesus - his life, death, and resurrection, is the final statement on God's faithfulness to his creatures and his world. He will not leave us alone, he insists on uniting himself with his people. He insists on redeeming the whole world back to himself. And he invites us into that Big Story to be renewed ourselves and to begin the work of reconciling all things back to him.
As Rich Villodas says, "The good news of advent is not that we are faithful in our waiting (we often aren’t) but that God is faithful in his coming."
This Christmas season, let’s press into this truth that God never stops pursuing us; this was his plan from the very beginning. He meets us right where we are, and he’s relentless about making his dwelling with us.
If we believe this to be true, then how should this relentless love Story shape how we live next to our neighbors, our colleagues, and our family members?
By Jonathan Thiessen
Scatter Global President and Co-Founder