Lord Jesus, you give us very tangible and personal ways that you come to us. Help us to treasure these Means of Grace and the blessings they bring to our hearts and lives. Amen.
18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
The words of Jesus we just read are from his long speech to his disciples not long before he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane on Maundy Thursday. Is it strange to be reading these words from this time in Jesus’ life the day after Christmas? Maybe. They are words we usually read and ponder on in Lent. But it’s good for us to remember why Jesus came on Christmas. He was born to die, to die for us.
But these words also reveal something else very important to us as well. Because even though Immanuel (God with us) is no longer here on this earth, he still is Immanuel, because he still does dwell among us! Jesus doesn’t want to leave us as orphans, he wants to know that he still is with us, dwells among us and within us, and so he gives us signs today that he still comes to us.
In water and words, in bread and wine, Jesus comes to dwell among us. In simple things, in things that the rest of the world doesn’t see him in, we do. In these visible signs of his presence among us, Jesus unites us to himself. In these visible signs of his grace he gives us new life with him – new life free from guilt, free from sin, free from fear. In the visible signs of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion Jesus gives us the promise of eternal life with him forever.
We don’t get to see Jesus in the flesh like Mary and Joseph and the shepherds, and so many others did during his life on this earth. But he still comes to us, as real as ever, in these miraculous gifts. Treasure the gift of your Baptism! Treasure the gift of Holy Communion every time you have the blessed opportunity to receive it! In these gifts Jesus comes and gives us his very self, to be our assurance of peace with God now and forever. He is still Immanuel! God is with us!
Additional Reading: John 15:1-17
1. Children, ask your parents about your baptism. Parents, share with your children what your baptism means for you.
2. Children, ask your parents about what they pray about before they receive Holy Communion and how they feel afterwards.
1. Read John 15:1-17, words Jesus speaks soon after our lesson from our devotion for today. Why does Jesus say it’s important for us to stay connected to him through faith? How do the Sacraments keep us connected to Jesus?
2. When we know God’s love for us, how do we live our lives? How do the Sacraments help us live our faith?
You show the Father none has ever seen,
In flesh and blood you bore our griefs and pains,
In bread and wine you visit us again
Who could but see Immanuel!
Who could but thrill: Immanuel! Amen.
(Peace Came to Earth, Hymn #707, v. 3, Christian Worship Supplement)