Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

12/27 2013

God Is With Us

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  Praise the Lord! 
          How good it is to sing praises to our God; 
          for God is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.  Psalm 147:1

Singing! Christmas nights were filled with singing when I was growing up.  Several generations of my family would gather in my grandmother’s kitchen or living room and sing. As children, my cousins, siblings, and I would reluctantly join in with the choir of voices, because it was Christmas day and “there should be singing;” it was fitting. The vocal playlist would range from “Joy to the World,” to “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and favorite Gospel melodies.

There, in the room, amidst the messiness of crumpled wrapping papers, half eaten dishes and sparkling lights, voices would emerge sometimes off key but always in concord. This is where the family tradition of Christmas singing began and continued year after year. The older I became the better I understood that something more than crumbled wrapping papers, half eaten dishes, and misplaced notes were in the room.

There, in the room, amidst the year’s joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, fulfillment and ongoing yearnings, singing was proclamation; singing became testimony; and singing reshaped reality. God is near! God is here! God is with us! Through singing we brushed up against and encountered an intangible wholeness, peace, and solace. Through singing, praises were offered to a gracious God who is inclined to come close to us. Through singing we were inclined to continue living in the beauty and messiness of life.

Today, on December 27th we no longer wait in Advent anticipation. We celebrate God’s presence with us. God has drawn near and God draws us near. We live in the midst of life’s beauty and messiness with the presence of God. We look ahead to a world shaped and reshaped by the presence of God. This is the joy and bidding of Christmas.

May we find wholeness, deep peace, and solace in the presence of God; may we be shaped and reshaped by the presence of God; and may we continue to shape and reshape the beauty and messiness of life with the help of God.

…and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”  Matthew 1:23

Written by: The Rev. Dr. Lisa Thompson, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary