All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
“The gospel of Jesus is not a rational concept to be explained in a theory of salvation, but a story about God’s presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, which led to his death on the cross. What is redemptive is the faith that God snatches victory out of defeat, life out of death, and hope out of despair.”
– James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree
“If I could get a taste of my freedom, I would savor every tidbit
Pilot planes like I was Tuskegee
The flyest letterman, call me collegiate
That’s why I get violent on these mics
Can turn a phrase like Ike and Tina
Stories bloodied and beaten so well
We’re calling ’em red tales, how convenient, facts”
Song: Deliverance by Sa-Roc
Jesus’s plan to set the captives free didn’t call for any half-measures. No slipping money to guards who could be enticed to look the other way. No sneaking spoons in through the mail so prisoners could dig their way out.
This had to be an inside job.
A uniquely divine giftedness positioned Jesus to have success as a one person crew. But in addition to pulling off the job, the presence of Jesus serves as a standing mark of solidarity for any and all who would follow.
Emmanuel. God with us.
Not God cheering from afar. Not God in the distance impatiently waiting for you to close the gap.
It’s God moving all the way into the heart of human experience without bailing when things got difficult and painful with increasing intensity. God stayed right there through it all, and God stays right here through all we experience today. With us.
In the face of houselessness and food insecurity? Jesus is right there.
When mounting pain and pressure increase temptation’s appeal? Jesus got you.
As you experience the loss of those close to you and your relationships buckle all around you? Jesus knows that road well.
Living in fear and experiencing trauma as people from marginalized groups are unjustly and violently mistreated by authorities? Never forget that in the story of Jesus, the hero was killed by the State.
“Make it all just go away” tops a lot of Christmas lists this year. But that’s not what’s on offer today, and it wasn’t on offer when Jesus was born. The promise is that we don’t have to go it alone. Jesus will sit at the core of our frailties with an empathetic heart born out of shared experiences.
The day-spring has come to cheer our spirits. The gloomy clouds of night have been dispersed. Death’s dark shadow has been put to flight.
Christian Dashiell has served in urban communities and on college campuses. These days he writes a little, parents a lot, and works to support foster and adoptive families in his community. You can find more of his writing here.