“‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23)
I hope you were able to gather with people you love - friends and/or family - for Thanksgiving this year. As we begin the Christmas season, I’m reflecting on the value of gathering with people in person. What a blessing that this has become more possible as we move out of the pandemic. There is certainly a blessing as well in the ways that we can stay connected with people who are physically far away through the internet and phones. But there’s something even more special and important about gathering physically. When we gather in person with a friend or family member who we might have a disagreement with, the ability to share a smile or a hug can have the power to soften us, so that we can often more easily find common ground.
I think this is part of what we celebrate at Christmas time. The Lord is of course always present with the human race, through the Word, and through His spiritual presence in our hearts and minds. But His physical presence in the world, starting on that first Christmas long ago, began a significant process of softening the human race. We can see that in the Christmas story itself, in the way that His physical presence affected Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the magi.
I hope you are able to gather in person with family and friends this Christmas season, so that you can experience part of the power of “God with us.”
“The Lord's presence with us first becomes possible when we love our neighbor. Within love is the Lord, and so far as we have love, the Lord is present.” (Secrets of Heaven 904.3)