If you have ever spent time around an infant, you know that they are completely helpless. Besides breathing and crying, they need assistance to do practically anything else.

And yet the Creator of all, God Almighty, enters the world in this way — vulnerable, dependent, and helpless. It’s in this kind of vulnerability that we understand the love and nature of God.

Take a moment to consider how this little baby changes your life, how baby Jesus changes everything.

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In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

Luke 2:1-5

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“In those days a decree went out…” If you’ve attended a Christmas Eve service you’ve heard these words about the call for a census, setting up the tale of our savior’s birth. Over the years we’ve romanticized it with our church pageants, but the situation was hardly romantic. In fact, it was probably really awkward. Joseph and Mary arrive to be officially and publicly registered, but the fact that they were pregnant and unmarried made their relationship, especially back then, quite scandalous. “Name, please?” “Joseph.” “And this is…?” “Mary.” “Your wife?” “Um, fiancé.” “But she’s…” “Pregnant. Yes. I know. But you see, there was this dream…” Awkward.

They say half of life is about showing up: for class, church, the party, the wedding, the funeral. We must be there for one another, especially when it’s awkward or even scandalous. Joseph and Mary go on record as “together.” Together they witness the greatest of miracles — Emmanuel, God with us. Let’s remember that in our most awkward moments, God shows up and says, “Yes. I’m with them.”

Bill Buchanan

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God, thank you for being with us, in our minds, in our hearts, and through the coming of Emmanuel — God with us. Amen.

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Now go out into the world knowing that God goes before you, walks beside you, stands behind you, and is at work within you, empowering you to make a difference in the world.

Bill Buchanan

Bill Buchanan is an ordained pastor, Christian educator, and the Executive Director of Asheville Youth Mission and Raleigh Youth Mission. He lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina and loves being a dad to his two teenage kids.

Advent: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Mark Hayes

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